Last one standing: the controversies of senior assassins


Photo provided by MT/RJR Senior Assassins ‘23

RJR senior Nico Yohan, known as “The Tracker”, was eliminated by fellow RJR senior Bradley Cartledge in a parking lot.

Lilly Zaks, Staff Writer

Two words. A fight to the death until one person remains. Teens battling, trying to avoid getting out at all costs. Every man for themselves, betrayal flies from all corners, and people turn on each other. There is a high-prize reward for the winner, the only person left standing. Now, does this premise sound familiar? No, these two words aren’t the dystopian series known as the Hunger Games– it’s senior assassins. 

A simple concept in theory- try to shoot your peers with a water gun before someone hits you. People try to kill your target, film the kill for proof, and submit it to organizers. Once the organizers confirm your kill, you inherit the target of the person you killed. Although this seems straightforward, you are given immunity in certain circumstances.

The rules state you are “safe”, or unable to be eliminated, on any WSFCS school campus five-minutes before, during school hours or five minutes after any school-related activity like sports. Also, people are safe while wearing undergarments without shoes. For males, this includes boxers, and for females, it includes sports bras and spandex.

Seniors have to pay the managers of the game, “the organizers”, $15 to participate. The money goes into the overall prize pool that is divided at the end of the game between the final player standing, the player with the most kills, and the player with the first kill. 

In this year’s series, who will be the last man or woman standing remains to be seen, but one thing can be certain; this season hasn’t been short of controversy. 

RJ Reynolds soccer captain Katie Cockman was shot by Tate Lorentz, a senior at Mount Tabor, right before her practice at the fields off the side of Reynolda Road. Lorentz shot her at 3:50 before her four o’clock practice, making the kill legal if it was outside of school. Many raised questions if the field counted as WSFCS school campus, which would make Cockman safe until 4 pm. 

JR senior Katie Cockman was shot by Tabor senior Take Lorentz at the off-campus soccer fields before her practice.

“I knew I’d get out for a technicality and I did,” Cockman said. “The fact that Reynolds owns the [practice fields] and we don’t have room for practice fields near buildings.” 

With this kill taking place on the second day of the competition, the organizers had a difficult decision to make about the rules. In the end, the organizers decided Lorentz’s kill counted since the fields were not considered a part of the WSFCS campus.

“I think they handled it well,” Cockman said. “It’s hard to be in charge of rules and I understand it’s a difficult situation so it’s okay.” 

On the flip side, Ethan Chandler had a controversial assassination of a fellow senior before a funeral. The rules clearly give immunity to people during a service of worship or youth participatory event. 

The location and manner of his kill caused many to rethink the scope of the game and its boundaries. Although the rules protected people during their worship services, such as a funeral, they failed to account for the time surrounding the event. 

RJR senior Ethan Chandler was taken out by Tabor senior Grace Viola while walking with his dad to church. Photo provided by MT/RJR Senior Assassins ‘23.

I think the controversy around my kill was that it took place before a funeral,” Chandler said. “People had mixed emotions about it but in the end it’s just a game.” 

The kill was posted on the Instagram page and soon everyone flocked the comments taking sides. Some argued the kill should stand since they weren’t immune, and others said the kill was a violation of unspoken rules; you don’t get people out at a family’s funeral. 

The organizers decided the kill was invalid and that immunity was implied as it was the time prior to a funeral service. 

Ironically, Chandler was eliminated while walking into church with his dad. A car sped around the corner on his path and the assassin jumped out and shot him. 

Nothing says “betrayal” like friends turning on friends, a classic action encouraged in this game. Others choose to go outside of the box and use a different strategy to eliminate their target. 

“My original plan was to hook up a device to my target’s car and track them down to wherever they were at that moment,” Reynolds Senior Nico Yohan said. “Then, when I were to eliminate them, I would make up some excuse as to how I “found” them.”

Soon people began to refer to Yohan as Nico “The Tracker” Yohan, and the organizers even posted his elimination to Instagram under that name. People soon began to wonder if this action conflicted not only with the senior assassin rules, but also with North Carolina laws. 

“It was only controversial because it wasn’t explicitly in the rules and people got angry that I was using something to get a significant competitive advantage,” Yohan said. “However North Carolina is one of 11 states that ban the use of trackers, per their stalker laws, so if the parent was to find out and get worried about their child they could have gotten the police involved which would have put a stop to the game.” 

Quickly, the organizers realized the extent and possible legal repercussions of this competitive advantage. They added a rule prohibiting the use of tracking devices and posted it in an update to the Instagram page. 

 This year’s edition of senior assassins has been filled with questionable assassinations, debates on rule technicalities, and even illegal trackers. Already this year, the organizers have had to adapt to new things and change rules accordingly. People are turning on each other, guards are up, betrayal continues, and a high-prize reward remains at stake. Now less than 10 people remain, who will be the last person left is still being battled out across the city of Winston-Salem. Although one thing is certain… it will be a fight to the last shot.