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Members of the Red Team spilled onto the South Side High School gym floor last Saturday night, leaping for joy, hugging one another and celebrating a win over Blue in the 103rd Red and Blue competition.
The jubilation came after three nights of songs, skits, dancing, relays and athletic events, during which 350 or so girls engaged in a friendly but fierce, battle. The event was first organized in 1917, as an alternative to sports at a time when girls were not allowed to compete. It has remained a staple at South Side, and in the Rockville Centre community.
“It’s something that really brings kids together,” said Margaret Kelly, a 2003 South Side graduate who co-directed the event this year. “. . . It’s truly inspirational watching them do all of this.”
The teams, dressed in white, entered the gym single-file on March 7, singing, “Our girls will prove that South Side is the best,” before unveiling their team posters, emblems and songs. Themes were also revealed: Lost in PaREDise and Don’t You Forget about Blue. Blue’s posters and songs won in those categories, while Red’s emblem earned the team points.
The serious competition kicked off the next night, which happened to fall on International Women’s Day, as hundreds of spectators returned to pack the bleachers. The Red Team’s skit was narrated by Annie Baker and starred Co-captains Lindsay Tighe and Genna Kopelman, who, along with Connor Giovaniello, faced a number of obstacles during a fictional senior class trip to a faraway island.
Though Dylan Chruma, who played a “blue boy” lost on the island for years, tried to sabotage the trio throughout, they came together in the end, agreeing to head back to Rockville Centre united. “Red and Blue will always prevail!” the team shouted.
Though Red won the competition, 51-43, judges deemed Blue’s skit the best.
Set in a Saturday detention run by a teacher known as Ms. Blue, played by Aline McEntee, it featured students in different cliques coming together to form unlikely friendships. The skit was based on “The Breakfast Club,” and their theme was a variation of the Simple Minds song featured in the 1985 film, “Don’t You Forget About Me.”
The five students — the president of the debate club and a rocker, played by Blue Co-captains Allie Gallego and Winnie Chiffriller, along with a science nerd (James Hennessey), a tennis player (Ciara Byrne) and a wrestler (real-life state champion wrestler Kyle Mosher) — learn that they are more alike than they thought.
“Before today, I’d hardly consider anyone here my friend, but today taught me that all of our interests can easily blend,” Chiffriller said at the end of the skit. “Our similarities bond us. Our differences are few. When you go out into the world, don’t you forget about blue!”
The sentiment rings true to Red and Blue, according to Tighe, who noted that she got nervous after seeing the Blue Team’s skit during the dress rehearsal because of how good it was. “Everyone is included,” she said of the annual competition. “There are friendships that were being made that you would never guess would be made ever. . . . You have old friends, but you get to make new friends through Red and Blue, so it’s a special moment.”
Throughout the skits, high-energy dances produced some of the event’s loudest ovations and incomprehensible cheers. Red’s dancers (and costumes) represented the challenges the protagonists faced on the island — vines, water, snakes — while Blue’s incorporated the different social groups in the school. Red won the dance category, while Blue was awarded points for its costumes and prop.
Red edged Blue in the tumbling portion of the competition, and won all five relay events and Friday’s floor hockey game, 2-0. Blue won the Tug of War and volleyball game on Saturday.
Kelly, a social studies teacher at South Side who took part in Red and Blue for four years as a student, said she was able to see, from a different perspective this time, students coming together.
“These girls that never talk otherwise . . . they’re interacting because of this,” she said. “This is a one-of-a-kind thing. Sports bring people together, but this is such a massive scale. There’s no sports team that has 170 girls per team.”
Tighe said she knew the competition would be close, and noted that there is a sense of relief in seeing the efforts by the advisers, coordinators and team members, who worked day and night for six weeks, pay off.
“I told them to leave it all out there when Friday and Saturday night came, and they listened,” Tighe told the Herald. “It turned out to be a Red Team victory, but I’m proud of all the girls on the Red and Blue teams and the hard work they all put in.”
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