LOUISVILLE - While many students jet out of school on Friday afternoon, it is not unusual for a group of students to gather late into the evening on Friday nights in the library at Monarch High School.
Gathered around board games the high school students cast dice, engage in friendly and somewhat competitive banter and, at times, even break into song. All of it is completely normal during Game Night at Monarch.
“The first year we had six kids and now we’re up to 35 every other week,” said Monarch Librarian and Game Night organizer Beatrice Gerrish. “You have to have an adult supervise, so I have two other teachers that help me, so I’m not here every Friday. The kids pay for pop, candy or pizza and I use that to offset the cost of buying games.”\
“I really like playing board games. They are really fun and I’ve made a lot of friends through this club,” said Monarch Senior Cameron Cahoon.
“I enjoy learning them so I can teach them to others,” added Monarch Senior and former Game Club president Cooper Gerrish.
While there are more traditional board and card games including Cards Against Humanity and Dungeons and Dragons, students also enjoy learning and playing games like One Night Werewolf and Exploding Kittens.
“You basically go through this stack of cards and try not to get exploded by a kitten,” explained Monarch Freshman Lucy Quincy regarding Exploding Kittens. “There are different cat cards that will explode you. You have to defuse them if you get one. Once you are out of diffuse cards and you get an exploding cat card, then you basically lose. It is a lot of fun.”
In One Night Werewolf players must use inductive and deductive reasoning to determine who to trust and who not to trust.
“I enjoy learning or understanding this artform that is games,” said Monarch Senior Ricky Heilbron. “It is interesting how someone takes something like a movie or a book or some theme and applies it to the reality of a board game.”
“It is something I really enjoy. It is something I make time for. I do not work on Fridays so that I can come to this every year,” said Monarch Senior Caitlin Jentz. “I’ve come to game night since Freshman year and I’ve learned a lot about a lot of different games that I probably wouldn’t have because people bring in their own and we play them as a group.”
It might be hard for some to imagine kids gathered around old-fashioned game boards, given the popularity of video games and the ubiquitousness of Fortnight on high schools’ campuses. Part of the lure of Game Night, however, is the social interactions created when technology is not part of the equation.\
“There are no computer games at all,” said Beatrice Gerrish, the 2012-13 Colorado Librarian of the Year. “They have to interface one-on-one. They think they’re not going to like it and then they love it and they keep coming.”
“A fun thing about Game Night is that it has helped me build communication bonds with other people,” said Monarch Sophomore Enock Monanti. “You have to communicate with other people if you are going to play with them.”
“This gets us out of the house,” said Monarch Freshman Lucy Quincy. “I would probably just go home and watch Netflix for four or five hours, because that is what I normally do. On Fridays, [because of Game Night], I have a place to go and people to hang out with and actual plans.”
The students say they appreciate how easy Game Night is. Without having to take on the organization they have access to a fun and safe activity.
“What makes Game Club different than a lot of other clubs is that there is not a big amount of commitment to it. You don’t have to wear suits, you don’t have to sign up for stuff. You show up, you play board games,” said Cooper Gerrish.
It has brought together an eclectic group of students.
“You don’t think you would ever really talk to most of these people outside of this place -- but everyone I’ve met is super cool and they’ve been in quite a few of my classes, so it has been a good way to make friends,” said Monarch Freshman Lennan Castro.
“We are the kooky people. We are weird in certain ways. We all have our certain things,” explained Cooper Gerrish proudly. “It is a place where we gather. We gather all the weird people together.”
“We’re not particularly sane,” Heilbron added jokingly. “In most people’s eyes we are students who enjoy staying longer than the school day to play board games. That’s not a majority of the students.”
“It is a really good way to hang out with people outside of school and bond with them. It isn’t like I can go home to my 11-year-old sister and play Cards Against Humanity or something. It is a lot of fun. I really enjoy being in this club,” said Quincy.
Word about Game Night has even gotten out to students at other Boulder Valley schools, including Centaurus and Fairview. After being invited by a Monarch student, Centaurus Sophomore Connor Lierley became a regular, driving over every Game Night from Lafayette.
“I stay here because it is a very interesting group of people who get together and are allowed to have fun in an effectively non-judgmental way,” said Lierly. “We all are outsiders per se. We are all a bit nerdy and this is a place where it is okay and is actually supported. This allows there to be a place at BVSD.”