Like stacks themselves, Ditch Day announcements can span a continuum from a senior reading from a piece of paper (bleechh, in my opinion) to a production with the components of a small play – acting, props, lighting, dramatic entrances and exits. If done right, each announcement builds on the energy of the one before it, until the dining hall is positively buzzing with Ditch Day anticipation.
The buzzing becomes literal when dinner ends and the underclassmen eagerly discuss (based on the announcements and their knowledge of the seniors) what the themes will be and which stacks they want to go on.
I could write pages describing all of the excellent announcements I’ve both seen and been part of, but instead I’ll just give a few brief flashes. While I was at Tech, announcements have included:
Rappelling from the ceiling
Swinging across the dining hall on a rope
Torches and pitchforks
Full body paint
Eating an entire habanero
Flaming chests (yes, the thing under your chin)
And much, much more
But in the end, despite all these gimmicks, it really comes down to the fundamentals of storytelling – timing and arc. Like any medium, there is a perfect length to Ditch Day announcements. Too short and the audience is left blinking in confusion. Too long (which is much less time than most people realize) and the audiences eyes glaze over and you have lost them.
A good ditch day announcement manages to pack rising action, a climax and falling action into those few short moments while still managing to convey the theme and tone of the stack.
And not to strut, but I feel like I managed to hit the sweet spot with my announcement. I’ll go into detail in the next installment.