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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm
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Cribz: The show must go on at 934 High Street

Despite the circumstances, the residents of 934 High Street are able to make their senior year memorable. From left to right are Conner Stanfield, Audrey Boyle (holding Henrik the cat), Sophia Schott and Ahon Gooptu, all `21. Photo by Kaya Matsuura.

A collection of stuffed animals relaxing atop a shelf, allegedly excellent massages and weekly furniture rearrangements (to accommodate for dance routines) have all contributed to keeping positive energy alive and well for the residents of 934 High Street. Though the past year didn’t exactly play out as expected, Sophia Schott, Ahon Gooptu, Conner Stanfield and Audrey Boyle, all `21, have managed to embrace and relish their final year at Grinnell College.

The group of four has known each other since their first year at Grinnell, connecting through a web of tutorial classes, play performances, singing groups and, in the case of Gooptu and Stanfield, a friendship begun online before either of them had even arrived on campus.

“If you asked me to name my top three friends at Grinnell it would be these people,” said Boyle.

The group lives in two separate, two-person apartments that share the same front entrance. They spent their first night together this summer playing a game of popcorn karaoke — each alternating each word of a song’s lyrics, all while staying on beat.

A week later, Boyle and Schott embarked on a camping trip, and after later returning home, Schott received a positive COVID-19 test, causing the group to go into quarantine. On the last day of their isolation, Grinnell was hit by the derecho. Stanfield described it as, “A really high high and then really low low.”

In spite of the initial emotional roller coaster, the group has settled in nicely, enjoying a mix of Mario Kart and Just Dance matchups, trivia nights, online theater performance screenings and theater and arts class practices at home.

“We have to sing in our rooms for an hour a week, very loudly,” explained Schott. “Audrey has to hear it all three times,” added Gooptu.

Boyle is the only one who doesn’t take singing lessons. Schott says Gooptu and Stanfield also sometimes read plays aloud during the day. “It’s hard to escape the theatricality,” Schott said.

Stanfield is currently designing a theater Mentored Advanced Project that will stage the play, “The International Stud” by Harvey Firestein and will include each house member in the cast. Stanfield and Gooptu will be acting, Schott will sing and lead music directing and Boyle will direct the overall production.

“It’s sort of like a culmination of our theater time together,” explained Stanfield.

A portion of the wall in Gooptu and Stanfield’s living room has been designated the “poster wall.” Approximately 15 unique posters occupy the space accounting for each of the shows they’ve been involved in together in their time at Grinnell. A spot on the wall has already been reserved for an eventual “The International Stud” poster.

Beyond theater, Gooptu, an international student from Kolkata, India who loves to cook, enjoys organizing delicious meals for his friends in Grinnell.

“If it’s a religious holiday I don’t really care about that part of it. I do care about the food part of it and just being with my family, when obviously which I can’t do,” said Gooptu. “It’s nice to be able to do that with the three of them as well as our friends in our scurry.”

“We had a really fun Diwali celebration,” said Stanfield. Gooptu and another friend from Kolkata organized a meal with their small bubble of friends for the holiday. “They gave us a menu and a recipe and were like ‘everybody cook for this feast,’” said Boyle.

On Saturday nights, the housemates often host a themed party with that same bubble, playing off the pre-COVID-19 tradition of Saturday evening Harris parties at Grinnell College. The four housemates particularly get into the spirit. Their first party was “Mean Harris.”

“We all dressed up as one of our arch-nemeses from our time at Grinnell,” explained Stanfield. “Not all of them had real people that they were based off of,” added Schott.

Other party themes included a “Love Island” murder mystery on Halloween and a prom.

“A big part of us being fourth-years who live together and live off-campus is that we are able to sort of keep what we view as our Grinnell experience alive in a sense,” explained Boyle. “We’re able to hold events that we miss or that we wish were still happening and we’re able to sort of help each other and ourselves have the senior years that we wanted to have and had always envisioned having as our final year here.”

The fifth member of the family, Boyle’s cat Henrik — named after playwright Henrik Ibsen — was not available for comment.

“He hates journalism so that’s probably why he’s not here right now,” said Schott.

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