Muck-Up Day 2019

This morning I arrived at school to find the place recreated as a Halloween theme park/ performance art installation. The lawn out front was a graveyard, the ALIA bus was a Scooby-Doo inspired “Mystery Machine” and the halls of Alia were decked out with skeletons and cobwebs. I discovered a rabid Junior (Oscar) locked in the Science Room. The Senior Homeroom transformed into “Kaleb’s Casino” (like something out of The Shining) and Briony was doing Tarot readings in the Music Room. The stairs had transformed into a “Safe and Spooky Slide.”

“It will just wash off!”

Muck-Up Day at Alia is an opportunity for creativity and fun. After their last day of school on Wednesday, the Year 12s go out for dinner with their teachers. Then they spend the night at Alia, transforming the place (to a degree) by the next morning.

I remember my Muck-Up Day in 2005, when we moved all the chairs into a pile in the hall (we were at a different campus) and put vaseline on the door handles. Someone taped a fish under a couch, I think. Since my year was only the second class ever to graduate from Alia, we didn’t have any kind of tradition around what to do. We took our cues from what we thought happened elsewhere — cause mischief, be irreverent, push the boundaries. But when everyone arrived at school the next day they looked at the pile of chairs in the hall and said, “Why?” We couldn’t answer, and, begrudgingly, we packed up.

In the years since then, students have started thinking about Muck-Up Day well before they reach Year 12. They seem to see it as part of their legacy to the school. A creative and surprising approach can go down in history. Some of my favourites have been: the year that turned the Art Room into a beach resort, with real sand and water; and the year that organised a jumping castle (although that was just great fun, not particularly “creative”).

This year definitely stood up. Chaining a Junior in the Science Room and darkening the windows was the stand out touch. Oscar (the Junior) showed real patience and commitment. The door shook as I passed it, but when I opened it, there was only darkness. I walked in. As my eyes adjusted I could make out a skeleton chained to a table. Then I noticed the heavy breathing, and Oscar charged at me from the back of the room. I barely made it out of the room in time to close the door in his face. And if you know Oscar, you would understand why the prospect of him catching me was actually a bit scary.

Hagan Mathews