The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas


St. Mark's School of Texas
10600 Preston Road Dallas, TX 75230
The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas


The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas


Students bond through class competitions

In order to relieve stress and bond with classmates, Marksmen create grade and inter-grade competitions, unifying the Upper School beyond the classroom.
Winston Lin
Sophomore Spencer Hopkin looks for a bucket, with sophomore Enzo Henry tracking him down.

Tie game. Sweat dripped down the player’s face, running to the tip of his nose before falling to the court below. The hardwood floors squeaked as the players shuffled around in perfect chaos. Around the court, droves of students and teachers watched intently as the game played out.

With only one varsity basketball player on the court to lead, the ball was passed around in a disorganized fashion.

A palpable energy filled the air as the ball hurriedly moved from player to player, eventually landing in the hands of Senior Harry Wang. Gracefully rotating his body, he lifted his eyes to the orange rim, brought his hands up into shooting position, and swiftly arced the ball through the air.

The gym stood still as the ball flew in the air, passing through the net with a swish. The court erupted. The droves of people flooded the court, crowding Wang and jumping around in excitement.

This legendary game-winner marked just one of the many great memories of the Senior Basketball League, an intramural sports league run by the Class of 2024 for the past three years.

And for the Class of 2024, this basketball league has been one of the most unifying experiences in the entirety of high school, serving as an example of the class activities each grade competes in.

Halfway through sophomore year, current seniors Alex Barrett and Bryan Graham wanted to create a fun way for their class to bond. With the basketball season in full swing and drawing inspiration from the Class of 2022’s three-versus-three basketball league, the idea quickly developed into a sophomore-only basketball league.

The league consists of co-commissioners Barrett and Graham, a social media manager and eight teams of five with captains who draft the teams.

“Alex and I were the catalysts to begin the league,” Graham said. “We set up the draft and did that work and so that is why we have continued to lead it these past few years.”

Following the online draft and the creation of an Instagram account, the Sophomore Basketball League (SBL) was finally born.

As a grade with their first year in high school overshadowed by struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, this seemingly simple idea unified the grade and helped establish deep bonds that would last throughout high school.

The first season of the SBL played out flawlessly, with the Instagram gaining a large following and the championship coming down to the wire. That year, Graham’s team won the league and earned a hand-made wooden trophy.

As the Class of 2024 returned for their junior year, the SBL received a rebranding, turning into the Junior Basketball League (JBL).

Throughout the arduous work of the school year, the league continued its purpose of unifying the class, consistently drawing large crowds during lunch when students could have been doing homework or studying.

“It has been really cool to see so many different groups of guys getting together at lunch,” Graham said. “It’s cool that they find a common thing to cheer for. Whenever we do signups, more than half the grade signs up. Not everyone gets drafted, but those kids who don’t get to play all still come out to watch and I think that is super cool.”

Reflecting on his junior year, Graham believed that the JBL was one of the highlights that made the difficult year a good one. And with such success over the past two years, more than half of the Class of 2024 signed up to compete in the final installment of the league — the Senior Basketball League (SBL).

This year, Graham returned to captain one last team — Mogwarts Elite — as he made another attempt to win the coveted championship. There is a unique, exciting feeling this year with a tinge of sadness, as the seniors play through the remaining games of a central part of their Upper School experience.

“This (league) has really brought every part of the grade together to root for each other,” Graham said. “There have been so many great moments, like everyone storming the court after a game-winner, and that has been some of my favorite moments.

Sometimes, during a mentally exhausting day, students just want some time to enjoy themselves. And for sophomores, the biweekly class sports event becomes a hotspot for laughs, chatter and memories.

With inspiration from the Class of 2024’s basketball league, the Class of 2026’s Student Council members organized the Sophomore Olympics. As freshmen the year before, they founded the Freshmen Dodgeball Association and decided to change the format to include more sports: football, soccer and basketball. The competition features eight teams, each with a captain who drafted team players in Dec. 5, 2023.

In the past, Student Council representatives have had the responsibility to manage and plan class meetings. During sophomore class president Andrew Zhang’s freshman year, he and the Class of 2026 felt that the meetings were boring and repetitive, so they needed to make a change.

“It’s been fun to have everyone really involved, and it definitely boosts the spirit for the entire grade as a whole,” sophomore Ian McGowan said. “It’s also a lot more interactive than the class meetings and gives us a time to hang out and do things with people who you wouldn’t normally.”

A primary focus of the school is for every student to be comfortable and trusting of one another. Without this, days may become dreadful and intimidating for some.

“One of the great things about (the league) is it puts a spotlight on people who aren’t always seen as outgoing,” Zhang said. “I remember after the first game I got to see how happy and supportive everyone was, and I think it’s just a beneficial thing for (our community).”

In terms of community building, students are given the freedom to start clubs, study groups and even dunk contests. Yet for many grades both young and old, they choose to spend their time in a sports league founded by a peer.

“The fact that you’re all on a team working for a shared goal and the feeling that you’re in it together (means that) you share the joys of success and the sadness of failure,” Zhang said.

For sophomore class secretary Reagan Graeme, the grade’s Olympics have been a product of analyzing the past sports leagues and building upon them. Rules or games that had a consensus approval were kept, and the opposite also held true. One change, for example, was formatting the teams to now draft players from different advisories and cliques. Graeme hopes that students will build upon their relationships with each other.

“The importance of building strong relationships with each other helps us all be in a comfortable environment where we can do well,” Graeme said. “It’s really cool to see everyone rally around and support someone who is participating in the Olympics, and it shows how strong our community is.”

Not only are grade events coordinated within the class, but grades also compete with each other often. One of the longest-standing competitions is between the Class of 2024 and the Class of 2025.

When the Class of 2025 entered high school, both grade’s Student Council representatives agreed to begin a series of competitions. Competitions have included tug-of-war, a flag football game, a basketball game and a soccer penalty shootout.

For the Class of 2025, these events are extremely memorable. For junior Mateu Parker, tug-of-war created fond memories.

“The sophomores (Class of 2024) leading up to the event were talking a lot of trash and thought we didn’t stand a chance to their formidable power,” Parker said. “But the freshmen decided to rally, and come the day of tug-of-war, we got to work. I remember, as the rope passed the finish line, I felt joy and a sense of contentment that I had made my school life more complete.”

Along with win’s joy, Parker believes that the main benefit of class-wide events is the unity and friendship they foster.

“Competition invites friendship because two people competing against each other will respect each other,” Parker said. “A game is a great way to make friends. When you put students into a situtation that is not academic, it takes stress away and makes kids a lot happier.”

These inter-class events have served as an opportunity for students in either grade to connect with those in other grades, leading to great Upper School unity.

But whether a competition is within a single grade or across grades, the goal is the same: to create opportunities for Marksmen to bond with each other and to brighten the daily schedule of busy students. And according to Graham and Zhang, the SBL and Sophomore Olympics have done just that.

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About the Contributors
Matthew Hofmann, Life Editor
Christian Warner, Staff Writer
Winston Lin, Staff Writer, Staff Photographer