Mum’s the word: Akron high school has unique tradition before big rival game

AKRON, Ohio-- Among the biggest of this weekend's high school football games is the rivalry between Archbishop Hoban and St. Vincent-St. Mary high schools in Akron.

The game has been called Akron's "holy war." It is frequently played on neutral ground; this year's contest returns to InfoCision Stadium at the University of Akron.

Over the history of the rivalry, St. Vincent-St. Mary leads the series, 21-18.

To prepare for the game both schools have their own traditions: St. Vincent-St. Mary held a bonfire Thursday evening.

Seniors from both schools this year spent the night at their school decorating the building.

Both high schools also held pep rallies on Friday afternoon.

But Archbishop Hoban also does something that is rather unique: It is called "Mum Day."

The tradition dates back more than 50 years. It is a day in which students, teachers and administrators are completely silent from the moment the day begins until their afternoon assembly.

"There is no talking. The students hold each other accountable; sometimes you slip up and it's a quick, 'shhhh' and they stop," said Tym Tagliaferro, the dean of students.

The school is eerily quiet, with the exception of the occasional clanking of a locker or the shuffling of feet; more than 800 students completely silent.

The idea is to hold everything in until the assembly and the game, when on-cue the students can let everything out.

"It's just completely silent and then suddenly everyone erupts all at once," said Kelsey Sees, a 2007 graduate, who has experienced the tradition as a student, and is now on Hoban's faculty.

"The purpose of being silent all day is to build up your energy and your enthusiasm so that you are ready to go all-out this evening to celebrate and root for Hoban," she added.

Even though teachers are completely silent, it is still a school day.

"It still is a regular day of classes. There's just no talking, so teachers are going to do a lot of different things with power-points, some videos, might do a test or a quiz, some silent group work. There's still very much learning going on, but at the same time as much school spirit as you could ask for," said Tagliaferro.

And the crowd at Friday's game is expected to be extremely vocal.

"The reality is we could do an easier "Mum Day" on Saturday because everybody will have lost their voice by the time the football game is over, so no one is talking Saturday either," he added.

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