The Revival of Olympians and Pythians


Olympians and Pythians has been a time-honored tradition at Hotchkiss for many years. It was revitalized last year by former All-School Presidents Daniel Pai ’19 and Caitlin Reilly ’19. Students with an even graduating year are Pythians, while students with odd graduating years are Olympians. Faculty are placed on teams based on their year of entry into the school.
This year, major Olympian and Pythian events have included the weekly Pythian vs. Olympian Wednesdays. Individual wins all counted towards points for respective teams. Current All-School Presidents Luke Kalaydjian ’20 and Maggie Ottenbreit ’20, along with Mrs. Marcie Wistar, director of student activities, have worked to begin an Olympian and Pythian committee, in order to get more students active and involved.
The Student Activities Office also award Olympian and Pythian points during Fun Fridays, and during activities such as the Terry Fox Run. The Student Activities Office determines the point values for each activity. An event to look forward to is a t-shirt design competition that will occur halfway through this year between both teams. Each team will design a t-shirt, and the winning t-shirt design will be printed out and given to the entire team.
An ongoing program throughout this year is Pythian vs. Olympian Wednesdays, otherwise known as POW!s. Each Wednesday, Mrs. Wistar organizes a different event. One week, students submitted words to describe their teams to receive points. Words describing Pythians included, “ecstatic, dope, prodigal, loyal, presidential, exotic, optimistic, [and] fearless,” while words describing Olympians included “thoughtful, resourceful, inclusive, hype, hard-working, [and] open-hearted.” Another week, students answered brain teasers and puzzles for points. POW!s are a good opportunity to participate in Olympians and Pythians to score some points. Kalaydjian and Ottenbreit said, “Having a small, fun and different activity every week shows that Olympians and Pythians are present on this campus and it reminds people to score some points.”
Olympians and Pythians has a history of building community. Created in 1893, this rivalry sparked intramural competition amongst members of the school community in both athletics and academics in pursuit of the winning title for their team, a trophy, and prizes along the way. The names of the teams, Olympians and Pythians, took inspiration from the famous Greek athletic games and music festival at Olympus and Pytho, respectively. Even the symbols representing these societies draw from the Grecian traditions. The Olympians used a lightning bolt in their insignia, as the Olympian competition took place to honor Zeus, the king of the ancient Greek gods. Pythians adopted a bow and arrow, featured in Apollo’s typical depiction as an archer. This god of music and dance was honored through the creation of the Pythos festival. Wistar said, “Olympians and Pythians has a long tradition at the School and it gives people a sense of pride to belong. Having the students on teams that span two grade levels helps students root for each other in different ways as well.”
In 1941, Olympian and Pythian competitions were halted to support students’ war efforts during World War II. Since then, members of the community have attempted to bring the rivalry back to campus with little success. However, the members of the Olympian and Pythian student activities committee have made it their goal to defy the odds and fully reestablish Olympians and Pythians as a Hotchkiss tradition. The students on the committee, who have not been chosen yet, will help plan and give feedback on different O&P events. Wistar said, “If students have ownership over the activities, then they can get their friends excited to participate and can come up with great ideas that are fun for everyone.”
Committee members Kalaydjian, Ottenbreit, and Wistar, along with selected application candidates, hope to bring the light-hearted competitiveness of Olympians and Pythians into many different school events. Kalaydjian and Ottenbreit said, “We think that there has already been a strong increase in Olympian and Pythian spirit compared to last year, especially thanks to Ms. Wistar’s effort to bring it back! Students seem more motivated to earn points and cheer on their team. We understand that it will take some time before Olympians and Pythians [is] part of the day-to-day culture here at Hotchkiss, but we believe that Student Activities [is] taking steps in the right direction.”
Kalaydjian and Ottenbreit sent out a Google form a few weeks ago about Fun Friday participation, which students can still fill out if interested. There will be more opportunities for students to score points for their respective teams in the Spirit Week leading up to Taft Day.