Ranger Challenges are the perfect way for students to fully immerse themselves in FHC culture


Annie Douma

The freshman and sophomores facing off in tug-of-war at this years’ first Ranger Challenge.

To AP World History teacher Brad Anderson, comradery within the classes is one of the most integral aspects of the ideal high school experience.

FHC has been continuing a unique tradition since 2004, started by former principal Terry Urquhart, where students come together and strive for the togetherness that Anderson is so fond of. Whether it be the tug-of-war in the fall, the mattress relay in the winter, or the newly added human foosball in the spring, each activity requires classmates to come together as one and create lasting memories.

“When you’re cheering for your team, cheering for your classmates, or you’re alongside them [with] your blood, sweat, and tears,” Anderson said, “it tends to bring you together and build a sense of togetherness and comradery that a lot of times doesn’t start in most schools until you’re seniors. Right here, we want to start developing that as freshmen, sophomores, and juniors and not wait until you’re senior here to quote-unquote ‘come together.’”

Anderson  describes FHC’s assemblies as “the best assemblies in the state of Michigan.”  Thankful that current principal Steve Passinault decided to continue the tradition of Ranger Challenges, he strives to ensure that Ranger Pride is instilled in each individual student, along with staying up to par with assemblies.

One of the finest facets of Ranger Challenges is that they are consistent. If the challenges were to happen intermittently throughout the years with no set amount or date, they would not successfully serve their purpose in uniting FHC students. Luckily, students get multiple points throughout the year to take a break from school and come together to carry out the tradition.

“[Ranger Challenges are] all about that tradition,” Anderson said. “Year after year, there’s consistency, and even through COVID-19, we tried to do it outside, and we really try to improvise, adapt, and overcome. It’s very important to me that we continue these traditions that have been built along the way.”

The Ranger Challenges do not solely include students. During the tug-of-war, the winning class will make the staff tug team, which was formed by Honors English 10 teacher Ken George. 

Anderson also thoroughly enjoys this feature in the Ranger Challenges, especially because kids are given the opportunity to have some fun with their teachers and vice versa. He explains that the staff gets very excited and involved with the tug-of-war. About five years ago, they made t-shirts for themselves, along with a promo video for the staff. Being able to participate in the Ranger Challenges also gave the staff a moment to separate themselves from work and immerse themselves in a memorable fragment of their student’s high school experience.

“I think students should really value [Ranger Challenges] because there were two years where we couldn’t do these,” Anderson said. “And now we’re back. We’re able to have tug-of-war, the mattress race, and the field foosball. So just enjoy them; come to them with a positive attitude. If you’re on the floor, participate to the best of your ability. If you’re in the crowd, cheer on your team.”

Much like Anderson, who is fond of the tug-of-war, senior Lucy McLean has a soft spot for the mattress race during Winterfest week.

The mattress race is where the entire grade forms a line, and one lucky person gets on a mattress—with a helmet on, of course—and their peers carry them down and back through the line. Whichever grade finishes first will advance to the next round where the champion class will be crowned. Last year, when Lucy was a junior, her class may not have dominated as they did during Homecoming, but she remembered truly enjoying it nonetheless.

We really try to improvise, adapt, and overcome.

— Brad Anderson

“Everybody lined up along the gym,” Lucy explained. “And then we had [senior] Savannah Blue [on] the mattress; we were awful at it, but it was super fun. I liked how everybody got to do it.”

From her four years in high school, Lucy knows that student involvement is paramount for her and her peers to be able to enjoy school functions such as Ranger Challenges. She knows many people that are not fond of assemblies, but she loves them. It is the best way to take a break from class and enjoy herself with her fellow classmates. 

Lucy simply hopes that students will participate in Ranger Challenges so that they won’t regret it down the line.

“I think some people are not as involved as they sometimes wish they were,” Lucy said. “I’ll hear that they’ll regret that they didn’t do more throughout high school. And I think [Ranger Challenges are] an easy way to do tug-of-war or do the mattress challenge and be on the mattress. It’s an easy way to get involved and participate with more people that you might not see every day in school.”

Similar to how Lucy enjoys the lighthearted break in her day to spend time with her class, history teacher Laura Stiles believes that straying away from the usual schedule to partake in fun activities is a fundamental part of savoring the best moments of high school. Through collaboration and communication among students, they are able to build unity and bond as a class in a way that no other school does.

What is particularly unique to FHC is starting each assembly with the “This is Ranger Country” chant. It allows students to all be involved with the assembly, along with getting them excited and ramped up about future events.

“That’s the pride in the tradition [of] ‘This is Ranger Country,’ and everybody can hear us,” Stiles said. “It’s a great way to start an assembly because it brings everybody together and it’s like you tell the whole neighborhood that we’re here.”

Stiles believes that, no matter how silly the challenge may be, every student should participate. Ranger Challenges are quintessential opportunities for students to fully immerse themselves in the all-consuming Ranger culture in a way that will forever be remembered.

“That feeling of Ranger Country—I love that feeling,” Stiles said. “I love the feeling when everybody’s in the gym and I wear that stupid hat and everybody’s cheering at the same time. Those are my favorite days, no matter how long or short it is.”