Fr. Ed’s Birthday: Seniors Pranking Again

The SBP Community celebrated the 73rd birthday of Headmaster Father Edwin Leahy, O.S.B., with cake, applause, and a senior prank.

The senior class is at it again, playing games with Headmaster Father Edwin Leahy, O.S.B., on his 73rd birthday. For this year’s prank, seniors wanted to fool Fr. Ed into believing that they destroyed his desk. To do this, they bought a desk similar to his and filmed themselves flinging it down the stairs at the Eddie Moraes Stadium in the Ironbound section of Newark. Then, the students returned to the Hive and did everything they could to prevent Fr. Ed from reaching his perfectly fine real desk—they filled his room with about 600 balloons, and they filled the adjacent “Trophy Room” with several hundred cups of water, spelling out “Happy B-Day Fr Ed.”

“The reason I love my birthday is that so much stupidity is associated with it,” Father Ed said.

Fr. Ed’s desk has been moved a lot over the years to commemorate his birthday. In 1982, the class of ‘83 decided to move Fr. Ed’s entire office to the Upper Field. Unperturbed, Fr. Ed went and sat in his office outside, going so far as having parent meetings there (in the cold). The class of ‘84 followed in the class of ‘83s footsteps, and a tradition began. Senior classes took the desk as far as Washington D.C. One class even took it to the roof (Fr. Ed, of course, continued to have meetings there!) The constant moving of the desk, however, eventually took its toll. The moves were leaving the desk chipped and scarred. And then the class of ‘16 took things too far. They etched “Class of 2016” onto Fr. Ed’s desk, set it on fire, and then placed it in the school’s pool. Fr. Ed was angry but he entered the pool and sat at his desk anyway.

The Class of ‘17 felt bad. They knew how important the desk was to Father Ed. He received the desk as a gift from Ken Smith, an African American executive at Exxon, at a time when African American executives were rare. The desk was made by The Kittinger Furniture Company in Buffalo, N.Y., the firm that produces desks for the Oval Office. So, in order to make up for the damage caused by previous classes — both inadvertent and on purpose — the class of ‘17 took the desk to Kittinger in Buffalo to be refurbished. With the help of parents, they got it done. The challenge the class of ‘17 posed to following classes was to keep the desk where it was. The class of ‘18, however, completely ignored that request and took the desk to Times Square. Fr. Ed was not happy. The class of ‘19 wanted to make up for that, following in the class of ‘17s footsteps. Their prank almost worked. But Fr. Ed walked into his office earlier today by using a back door. “They’re everywhere. Like cockroaches,” he said when he saw all the balloons. “The good news is that they respected the desk.” He then proceeded to smack the inflated orbs out of the way to sit at his desk.

This year was different not only because the class of ‘19 respected the class of ‘17 wishes, but because the whole school was really involved, one way or another. On Fr. Ed’s decree, for example, students from the Elementary Division went into his office and played with the balloons. Hundreds of students from the Middle and Prep Divisions met after school to watch a video put together by Yannie Lopez UDII where seniors “destroyed” Fr. Ed’s desk.
The school then sang “Happy Birthday.” That was supposed to be the end of the day, but the seniors had one more trick up their sleeve. After the school finished singing “Happy Birthday,” Kevin Marin SY smushed Fr. Ed’s face with cake. Fr. Ed did not mind. “There may be somebody in the world that has it as good as me. There may be. But there’s nobody that’s got it better than me. Believe me. Being able to be here and do this with different generations of guys is a great blessing in my life,” he said.

Father Ed, though 73, has no plans for retirement. “The only time I’m retiring is when I go to bed tonight, “ he said. “It’s hard to feel 73 when you’re around as many young people as I am everyday.” Father Ed’s birthday was actually on Sunday, December 2. He spent it with family, friends, and God. “They’re important to me. They’ve had a part in making me the way I am—for better or for worse—they can take the blame,” he said.