Mountain Day Roulette

Chris Branch ’20

 As the summer’s greens give way to autumn’s reds, browns, and yellows, anticipation builds for the first of our biannual Mountain Days. One of the Mondays or Thursdays of these upcoming months will be punctured by the freedom of an unhindered day up on the mountain.

 Along with the returning excitement for Mountain Day comes the reappearance of a game that is a staple of these few weeks every year. It’s a game that students and teachers (we speculate) alike play. The game is called Mountain Day Roulette.

 The basic idea of the game is to bet, so to speak, a homework assignment on the occurrence of Mountain Day. In other words, on a Sunday or Wednesday night before a possible Mountain Day, students skip one or several assignments and take the risk of a zero in the gradebook for the prospect of another twenty-four hours without the work.

 Now, you may be asking, “Isn’t the chance of a biannual Mountain Day on any given day extremely unlikely, and therefore the entire game unfruitful?” Well, the answer is a resounding yes. Mountain Day Roulette is based on a revolutionary high-risk, low-reward system that is perfect for the average highschooler.

 “But isn’t the game impractical, and a source for more stress than it relieves?” In theory, yes. In practice, also yes. Far too often a game of Roulette can result in the Post-Roulette Scramble, a wave of panic that comes directly after an all school meeting in which Mountain Day is not announced.

 The severity of these scrambles varies in direct relation with the magnitude of the assignment bet the night before. For instance, a missed reading assignment for a lecture class may not be the source of as much alarm as a 5-page humanities essay with a half a page written. Despite these frequent scrambles the game lives on, and it lives on through its winners, who are always quick to make known their victories.

 After any given assembly where Mountain Day IS announced there are always triumphant shouts of “I’m so glad I didn’t do the homework” and “Happy I went to bed early last night,” usually from the same familiar faces each year. So how do they do it? How do these students always make the right call, skip the right work?

 The answer is data. A true Mountain Day Rouletter knows that it is more than a simple game of chance. It’s a lifestyle, and there’s a formula involved in winning. The students who consistently beat the odds are truly geniuses in their own right.

 These savants collect dozens of data points such as dates of previous Mountain Days, local weather patterns, student suspicion, hunting season opening dates, and even Mr. Mulder’s concurring mood into account when plotting their gamble.


 Another less popular method of consistent Roulette victory is the Whole Hog method. This involves neglecting all assignments throughout the entire month of October. Although this is technically a fool-proof assurance of a win, it is not a highly used method for obvious reasons.

 Often times the research and analysis that goes into a good game of Roulette far outweighs the work it avoids. So, that begs the question: why do students play, and what’s the end goal?

 In short, the thrill. Here at boarding school, there isn’t an abundance of opportunity for the risky activities that often fill a teenager’s life. The safeguards here are, in all likelihood, for the best, but the tangibly safer environment often compels students to make unnecessary risk out of otherwise innocuous events. This phenomena is clearly exemplified in Berkshire’s Mountain Day Roulette.

 So the next time you see someone in the Post-Roulette Scramble, just know that if it weren’t this, it would be something else, and enjoy the spectacle of Mountain Day Roulette.