Mr. Abend Impact of Mountain Day

Julianna Boyson, Editor-in-Chief

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You started the presentation with that anecdote about how your step daughter said that math teachers aren’t fun or cool — is that based on anything that happened in real life?

It’s not based on anything that she’s said to me, but it is based on people’s general perceptions about mathematics, which I aim to overturn.

Ya, I feel like you do kind of overturn that stereotype.

Thank you.

When you walked up to the podium, at first I was like “ok, this is a Mountain Day presentation” because everyone knew Mountain Day was the next day so we were just waiting for the announcement. But then because I know you and I know your personality, I was like “he might be serious.” Do you think that your personality helped convince people that your presentation was real even though what you were saying was completely crazy?

If I hadn’t been serious about it I knew that it would be sniffed out within moments of me starting, so I had to make it as legitimate as possible to show you that maybe this actually was an Impact presentation about how something impacted me. So I had to go that far in the presentation, and I think the moment that people started to get serious about it was when I showed my house and I said, “Do you see the banners? They’re white and blue just like Bancroft, Bulldog Strong!” and the room got quieter. I think that if you’re gonna go at something, you gotta go hard.

Okay.

Go all the way!

It was awesome during the actual announcement when you panned to “Mountain Day 2018” —  everyone freaked out! Was it fun to watch everyone’s reaction?

It was really; it was a lot of fun. It was kind of my goal to try to get everyone excited without them actually being excited the moment beforehand. It was also fun to hear how people, specifically teachers from the back of the auditorium, saw the events unfolding ahead of them. And they said that some people said, “Oh, the kids knew the whole time” and others said, “They knew and then they didn’t and then they did and then they didn’t and then they did.”

Ya, that’s how I felt.

So it was really interesting because I had never gotten up and done anything like that before— to see what reactions people had was pretty special.

You’ve told your classes that all of the weird signs over the school are anagrams. Are you sad that people didn’t figure out that they were related to Mountain Day on their own?

I didn’t do as good of a job as I would have liked on the signs, but I think if students find out what the theme is then the theme is somewhat spoiled. You want the students to almost get there or at least be curious about it and then push through, but I didn’t do a good enough job getting them in front of the kids.

I feel like there’s just too many weird posters around Bancroft that it was just like…

It was another poster.

Exactly — there are always weird signs around the school.

I was trying to go for something that “seems odd,” and I was told the kids would be looking for things so I figured I’d put something kind of strange up there. So for anyone reading, keep your eyes open for next year.

It was your first Mountain Day.

Yes.

So what was your favorite part?

I thought it was really awesome that even though people were in competition with one another, everyone was supportive of one another both within the classes and between the classes. I also really liked how everyone could find a way to contribute — that it wasn’t just athletics and it wasn’t just dancing and singing; it was all these different things. I also like the fact that not everybody had to be great at everything but that you can participate in something you really enjoy. That was something that I think is unique about Mountain Day because you just don’t get that opportunity other places. Either the schools are too big or they’re just not cohesive and community based enough. It was really special to see, and the enthusiasm throughout the day that students carried from start to finish was incredible.

If you could choose any Mountain Day theme what would it be? I wrote Shrek in parentheses because I thought you would say that.

Ooh, um… if I could do any Mountain Day theme. Um, I don’t know. I think some fun ones might be just a little eclectic, like US history, I don’t know.

Wait! Are you serious?

I don’t know.

The whole point is that we skip class! That’s the whole point of Mountain Day!

Maybe you row across the river and we … I don’t know… or we … I don’t know, Scopes trial! I’m not sure, I’m just spit-balling here.

The theme would be Scopes Trial or is that a part of the American History one?

It’s just… the process behind Mountain Day is that there’s a few people at the school who really work hard at creating an experience for all the kids. If it was as simple as picking something out of a hat or just putting a couple of ingredients together that had already been given to you, it wouldn’t be nearly as fun or as meaningful for all of you. Part of the process that we take or others have taken— I wasn’t actually involved in picking the theme for this year because I arrived after the theme had been picked— is trying to keep the theme relevant to what’s going on. We try to make it something that people can be creative with as much as they can so I think video games was great because you could take new video games and older video games and little bits and pieces of each one, so we’re not sure what we’re doing next year but the process starts with just bringing out ideas, and some of the ideas will be terrible ideas like US history.

*Mr. Peterson laughs at Mr. Abend from across the room.*

He just laughed at you.

I know — that’s fine. At the same time it’s like starting a math problem that you don’t know how to solve: you’re just kind of reaching around in the dark and eventually you find a great foothold and you just go from there. You can’t just be creative on the spot, and no one ever is in most cases, but people work at it. Being creative can be a challenge.

How far in advance do you start planning Mountain Day?

We’ve already started talking about what next year looks like from a logistical perspective, and we decide certain things as the year goes on. I think there are certain things that need to be picked out in advance; other things can be picked out in the couple weeks leading up to it. We did meet extensively over the course of the first couple of months of school. I’ll just say that.

So apparently this is a classic Impact question. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Ooh, (Mr. Abend pause). If you’re into something, just be into that and if you love it then love it and if you want to dive deeper then dive deeper. I have fun doing what I do and planning Mountain Day was a ton of fun and if I didn’t love it I just wouldn’t do it— so love what you do.

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