SBP Fetes Fr. Ed In Its Own Way


Post from @graybees on Instagram

Yohangil Nolasco, Editor-in-Chief

St. Benedict’s has many traditions, but one that never seems to surprise anyone are the hijinks that take place on Dec. 2, the birthday of Headmaster Fr. Edwin Leahy’63, O.S.B. 

After last year’s pandemic-induced virtual celebration, the events that occurred on his birthday this year brought joy to the community in a time of distress. 

This year, the festivities marking Fr. Ed’s 76th birthday started at Convo with whipped cream pies to the Headmaster’s face flung at close range by members of the Girls’ Division. 

In response, Fr. Ed confronted the unwarranted attacks from the Girls’ Division teasingly by stating, “You didn’t have the nerve to come from the front, you had to sneak from the back.” Fr. Ed also kiddingly suggested that the girls’ action might harm an oral implant from recent dental surgery.

Minutes later, referring to the daily exercises he said that keep him in tip-top physical condition, he also mentioned how quickly he recovered from his well-known rib surgery a few years ago. The crowd responded with sarcastic laughter.  

Before the surprise, anticipation rippled throughout the Dalton Gym as Fr. Ed made his entrance and stood in a central position. Within minutes of Chemistry Teacher Dr. Dennis Lansang playing the famous Happy Birthday melody on an electric piano, Garnet Section Leader Cristine Alvarez, Pearl Coleman AGL Athena Collymore and Freshman Counselor Adanna Okoro launched their attack, sneaking up on Fr. Ed and slathering whipped cream and a cake onto his face. The crowd roared and jumped with excitement. 

Fr. Ed mentioned a valuable lesson about “celebrating those who transmitted life to us.” He proceeded to explain how he celebrated those responsible for his life by visiting and praying with his deceased parents. 

After the creation of the mess on the gym floor, Athletic Director Mr. Thomas Leahy placed a yellow bucket and mop before the pie-flinging trio. The crowd erupted with comments either laughing at or questioning the action. Many wondered if Mr. Thomas Leahy’s action represented gender bias or merely posed an opportunity for people to take ownership of their actions.

Pie smasher Athena Collymore said she and the other girls were responding against stereotyping when they then tossed the bucket off in the direction of the Boys Division.

Just after a male student kicked the bucket back to the girls, Art Teacher Ms. Pamela Wye-Hunsinger took initiative, snatched the bucket and a mop, and decided to clean up the mess created by students. Mr. Thomas Leahy then clarified the situation by announcing to the hundreds assembled: “I put the bucket in front of the people that made the mess,” he said. “It had nothing to do with gender.”

The day of mischief did not stop there. Both divisions contributed to decorating Fr. Edwin’s office with multiple, colorful post its. In addition, various members of the Boys Prep Division contemplated the idea of bringing back an old tradition of taking Fr. Edwin’s desk from his office. 

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At least one student took in all the goings-on in stride. “For me, growing up at Benedict’s and always seeing the pranks and celebrations for Fr. Ed’s birthday,” Lucia Gallo said, “it was a nice perspective to be in the room where decisions were made about it and not from a spectator’s point of view.”