By: Staff Writer Annie Tang
The evening kicked off with the classic “pie throw”, which was really just a paper plate filled with a good-natured desire to smear someone’s face with whipped cream. Originally planned to take place on the main stage, the pie throwing event was moved onto the grass nearby, as the Relay For Life (RFL) committee wanted to keep the stage clean for the performances later. Members of the RFL Committee and Team Captain John Boegman sat down in their green chairs and were greeted with onslaughts of whipped cream and laughter. Soon, the requests to pie non-committee members came in, and the first MSJ student who was subjected to this game was Freshman Nathan Lau, which led to the pieing of Freshman Avantika Sharma as well.
The committee then announced the beginning of another participant lap and encouraged everybody to walk around the track. After some time, another whipped-cream centric game was announced – the search for the gummy worms. MSJ students attempted to find gummy worms, which were buried in whipped cream, with only their mouths, while the remainder of the participants continued their relay.
The performances began as the sun slowly started to set. Senior Abitha Thiru sang a mashup of
“Titanium” by David Guetta and a Bollywood song, while accompanied by Freshman Mallika Gupta and her guitar. Thiru apologized for only singing sad songs, and used that as a smooth transition into her final song, “Tic Toc” by Kesha, for her upbeat conclusion.
The following duet was also a singer-guitar pair, as Juniors Rohan Panuganti and Abhay Dewan passionately performed the popular song “Demons” by Imagine Dragon. Freshman Emily Jean and Senior Kathy Liu followed that powerful performance with a moving duet of their own. Liu performed a hauntingly beautiful dance, while Jean sang and played the guitar to “Youth” by Daughter.
The audience’s attention was drawn to the grassy area in front of the main stage, as the Taekwando Elites Showcase began, but was soon led back to the main stage as Junior Grace Dong began her dance. The Wave Breaks ended the first segment of performances with an array of talents. From beat boxing to break dancing, the Wave Breaks did not disappoint with their performance.
Sophomore April Huang and Freshman Pritika Nekkanti won first and second place, respectively, for their decorated Luminaria bags. This announcement was succeeded by Team, who performed “I Really Like You” by Carly Rae Jepsen.
With the performances finished, Event Co-chair Shivam Parikh gave a short speech about Luminaria and kicked off the ceremony by introducing the Luminaria chairs. A RFL video was shown to the audience, and included answers from participants about the following questions: what do you like about relay; why do you relay; who do you relay for? Following the video, Luminaria chairs explained the significance of the candle in the bag through the reading of a poem: “yes it’s just one little candle just softly glowing in the night . . . but it can reach out to those in sorrow, offering comfort and warmth.”
After explaining what Luminaria stands for, they introduced this year’s presenter, MSJ’s Girls Basketball Team. Members of the team, the coach, and the father talked about their memories with Thaddeus Tran and what RFL means to them. The importance of unity and community was emphasized in each speech, and the the father said “United we stand, divided we fall.” Junior Dana Hazem summarized her thoughts on participating in RFL this year with personal exposure to cancer with the closing sentence of her speech: “Today we show hope for everyone who has been affected by cancer, directly and indirectly.” Juniors Soukhya Inamdar and Link Vos closed the speeches with their moving cover of the song “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa.
Participants then gathered on the track for the Lighted Candle Lap, where people could be seen helping strangers light their blown out candles throughout the walk. The candle-lit Luminaria bags, which were lined up along the track, helped guide participants throughout this last lap before relayers returned to their tents.