MagPi: A Revival

by Mythili Mandadi '11

It’s the week leading up to Homecoming. Spirit abounds, people are wearing face paint and crazy apparel, and freshmen are quivering in their wee shoes.

“Hello freshman,” Says the senior.

“…hel – um – I was just leav – help…” The freshman’s reply is unintelligible.

“You know, I’ve always wondered if I really was as small as you when I was a freshman.”

The freshman watches in fearful awe, incredulous that this gargantuan monster was ever actually his height.

“There’s an easy way to check,” The senior continues conversationally. “I know for a fact that I couldn’t fit into a locker in 9th grade – not for a lack of the then-seniors trying…”

We all know what comes next.

For a generation whose colloquialisms derive from coming-of-age movies like Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, American Pie, and 10 Things I Hate About You, it might surprise some that freshmen no longer get shoved into lockers or have their heads flushed in toilets by jocks who all wear the same sleeveless vests. In fact, a group of 12th graders is doing quite the opposite by taking freshmen under their wings. This movement is headed by magnet senior Quinn Shen ’11. Since the beginning of his last year at Blair, he’s been trying to restart the tradition that almost died during his own freshman year: MagPi.

MagPi is a mentorship program. According to the buddy system, each senior is matched up with one or two freshman mentees. These wise gurus are available for academic help with math, physics, Phamistry, computer science, etc. or just to lend support to students who are feeling the pressures of a new school or haven’t yet learned how to put up with the bizarre to the mortifyingly nerdy. “It’s way to allow freshman adjust to the rigors of the program by getting advice, support, or just plain comfort whether psychological or intellectual from we who have successfully survived,” says Sahaana Arumugam ’12. “Hanging out with these freshmen reminds me of myself four years ago. I see how much I’ve grown and matured, getting me excited to help someone else do the same.”

The first event, a bowling bash, occurred on March 20. Around half the freshman class was present along with 20 seniors and a handful of juniors, who were recruited so that they will have experience to start up the group straight away come next fall. There is another event planned tentatively for the end of the year. “They've never heard of MagPi,” rues Shen, but the most important thing, reestablishing the under classmen’s connection with upper classmen, is already underway so, he says definitely, “MagPi will become an annual gathering.” Where did he get the idea? The last MagPi was in 2007-08, and Shen had great memories of MagPi from his freshman year. Heasked around and found that many of the seniors had the same great memories and were asking to be mentors. In fact, several seniors have been looking forward to having freshman buddies since their MagPi experience. Magnet Administrator Peter Ostrander was only too glad to revive the tradition… “You call that a bowl?” “Yeah? Well that strike – you were so over the line!” “You’re going down, Mr. Schafer!” The inherent magnet spirit is clear in these freshmen, although bowling ability appears to be an acquired trait.