New schedule leaves no room for Harvest Fest

Harvest Fest, a popular senior tradition, will be undergoing a few changes for the Class of 2015.
The new school calendar added four two-hour early releases and three strategic planning days. As a result, FCPS will not allow any additional late openings or early closings because students need a certain number of seat hours, or hours in school. McLean High School is on the brink of meeting this requirement, so the traditional timing of Harvest Fest during the school day is not a possibility.
Even if the calendar had not been changed, Harvest Fest still runs into another challenge—liability for the administration.
“The seniors go to lunch and leave,” Principal Ellen Reilly said. “So [seniors] go at 10 or 11, and then by 1 o’clock, there’s 20 kids left. During that time, I’m liable for you all, and if something happened, anybody got into an accident, it’s the school’s fault because you were supposed to be [in school].”
To replace Harvest Fest, the SCA is planning a senior tailgate featuring food, games and activities. The tailgate will be held before the TJ football game on Oct. 31, the day of the first newly added two-hour early release.
“We are planning to do [the tailgate] on the tennis courts so only seniors can get in or out,” senior class president Juan Esteban Baus said. “It’s basically just like Harvest Fest but not during school hours. We are planning to have free admission to the game for seniors.”

“It’s basically just like Harvest Fest, but not during school hours.” -Juan Esteban Baus,
senior class president

The tailgate coincides with the football team’s senior night, so the SCA is planning another special privilege for the seniors during the game.
“We wanted to move some bleachers down to the area behind the field goal and just have that be a senior section for that game,” Baus said. “We’d be on the field which would be a pretty cool privilege.”
Last year, the cost for Harvest Fest’s moon bounces, activities and food totaled $5,000, even though most students did not spend much time at the event.
“That money would go into buying the tickets for the majority of our class or different food than just pizza [like] last year,” Baus said “We were thinking about getting food trucks, so it depends on how much food trucks cost, and how [the tickets] work out.”
Several seniors have expressed their disappointment towards the change.
“I honestly actually think that we could have a tailgate any day before a game,” senior Rachel West said. “I feel like it’s kind of cheap. It’s kind of like a cop-out.”
Although some members of the senior class prefer the traditional Harvest Fest events, many remain open to the idea of a new tradition.
“I think we are all pretty bummed because it was important to the seniors,” Baus said. “But I think this is a really good alternative.”