EXETER– Superintendent David Ryan and SAU 16 Police Chiefs Anthony King, of Stratham, Ellen Arcieri, of Brentwood, Mike LePage, of East Kingston, Nathan Liebenow, of Newfields, Scott Cain, of Kensington, and Stephan Poulin, of Exeter, wish to caution high school students against taking part in the so-called “assassin” game.
Through the assassin game, which has become an unofficial tradition at Exeter High School, students team up and are given an assigned “target” to pursue with a water gun. If successful in reaching their assigned person, they inherit that person’s targets as well. The last team remaining typically receives a cash payout from a shared pot.
SAU 16 has become aware that students are taking part in the game despite school not being in session due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, and Superintendent Ryan and the police chiefs of the six SAU 16 communities strongly urge parents to intervene to prevent their teens from taking part.
“This game is inherently dangerous under the best of circumstances, but is even more so now — when students should be home respecting social distancing requirements that are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Superintendent Ryan said. “In this day and age of violence and the constant media reports of shootings, the harm that this game could cause to a family or community is devastating. As responsible school officials, we will continue to do our best to make students aware of potential dangers involved in this ‘game.’ Likewise, families have to be aware of the potential consequences as well.”
Student and community wellness have always been the top priorities of the district and police departments, and the game has historically been a drain on police resources when officers are dispatched to respond to students — often dressed in black or in camouflage — hiding in bushes or behind businesses.
This year, police are working hard to protect themselves from COVID-19 while serving their communities, and Governor Chris Sununu has issued a stay-at-home order. Students taking part in the assassin game would be in direct violation of that order and the social distancing standards it’s meant to support, which require that residents remain home unless leaving for essentials or to fulfill essential jobs.
“We understand how frustrated our seniors are by this situation, but for now we are asking everyone to continue abiding by the stay at home order and help us ensure that we can celebrate some sanctioned traditions — such as graduation — as soon as we are able,” Superintendent Ryan added.
Parents are encouraged to talk with their high school students and remind them of the importance of staying home while the COVID-19 situation is ongoing, as well as reinforce the dangers of the assassin game.