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Put Down the Guns, But Continue the Fun

Principal Andrew Abner announces prohibition of Senior Assassin.
media by Claire Yeater
A graphic containing squirt guns reads “Put Down the Guns, But Continue the Fun” to introduce the article.

The clock strikes 1:35 p.m. Jan. 11

A collective vibration strikes the phones of students during their seventh-period classes. 

“RCHS Class of 2024 – **Important Message** from Principal Abner” is the subject of the email notification. 

“I have just attended a district meeting and it was made abundantly clear that the game of ‘Senior Assassins’ will not be tolerated on any DCSD campus,” Principal Andrew Abner said in the message addressed to seniors and their parents. “If any student is found to be in possession of a facsimile of a weapon on any campus it has been shared that this will be a mandatory recommendation for expulsion.”

Senior Assassin is a traditional game that originated in the United States in 1982, according to However, the game did not begin at Rock Canyon until 2021, when it was organized by former student, Tiffany Lahey. 

The game’s premise is that seniors pay five dollars to play, and the last person standing after months of avoiding getting shot by a water gun will win all of the money collected for admission. This year, the jackpot is $1,410. 

Students wear items such as goggles and floaties to protect themselves on a day-to-day basis. Every once in a while, Student Council Senior Class President Matthew Oros ’24 and Senior Class Vice President Leah Sheahan ’24 will post on @rc.seniors.24 on Instagram to announce a free-for-all “purge day,” where students’ protective items do not keep them safe.

The seniors remaining in the game as of the start of round four Jan. 8 include Kate Shupe, Maddy Sova, Aiden Kahn, Matthew Shipley, Lily Mulstay, Bella Smoldt, Marley Johnston, Nolan Kliewer, Trevor Olson, Hudson Antestenis, Ava Blanco, Tristan Miller and Charlotte Strabel.

What do you think about Senior Assassin?


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.

Abner’s message led many students to assume that Senior Assassin would be cut short and over for good. 

Gabe Henley ‘24 was eliminated Aug. 19, two days into round one. 

“I think they should [finish] the game. You don’t have to play on Rock Canyon grounds or any school grounds to get people out,” Henley said. 

Abner later clarified that students might have misinterpreted his message. 

“I didn’t mean to imply that people have to stop playing. If you read the email, quite literally, what I’m simply saying is, I don’t want anyone playing on school grounds [or] on campus,” Abner said. “I don’t really care if the game continues off campus.”

The purpose behind the game being prohibited on campus pertains to state inherent safety concerns. 

“If [an elimination] happens on campus, especially if kids are seen with a squirt gun that looks like a real gun or something like this, it’s going to cause major problems,” Abner said. 

A real-life incident at a school in Parker, Colorado influenced this decision. 

“Some other schools, particularly in Douglas County School District, went on lockdown before holiday break because of Senior Assassins. There was a kid who was dressed in all black, holding a gun [that] looked like a real gun. It ended up being a squirt gun, and he got picked up on the cameras by district security. They called Douglas County Sheriff’s department, [who] came out [with] full-bore long rifles pointed at this kid,” Abner said. “We don’t want to know what happened there, right?”

Shortly after the email was sent out, some seniors and even juniors looking to next year began planning ways to continue the game on campus. 

“I definitely think this will prevent people from signing up not only because it will be more difficult to get people [out] when they are not at school, but also because people might not want others to know where they live and work and that would be a bigger part of the game,” Maddie Kasal ‘25 said. “I think something like stickers you need to put on someone’s backpack or something like that could be a good alternative [to water guns].”

Some students suggested potentially using alternatives, such as water balloons, instead of squirt guns. 

“[I’m] not as concerned about water balloons, because it doesn’t look like a weapon,” Abner said. “There’s also a safety factor with those, too. If anything were to happen in the school on laminate flooring, people [would] slip and fall, right? The point of the email was simply to say ‘Guys, be safe, and keep it off school grounds.’ I don’t really care if the game continues, but those are my two big things.” 

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