The Unexpected Battle Between Ms. Battle and an Evening of Connecting Hispanic Culture

Daniel Morrison, Copy Editor

   The officers said the tournament would be a friendly competition, but every player knew it was everything but. So the young, elderly, and everyone in between assembled around each other—teammates seated across and opponents to the left and right—and engaged in deep contemplation, strategizing for their game ahead. They drowned out the Cuban music that made their bodies dance against their will, and ignored the yellow string lights that—in conjunction with the swaying palm trees and Cuban attire—set the mood of that clear Friday evening. What they didn’t ignore, however, was the taste of 100 dollars, a taste that superseded that of the robust, flavorsome Cuban cafecito handed out that night, November 4th.

   As the players waited for the go-ahead, they continued to gaze at the dominoes before them, clumped together face down at the center of each table, as if frightened by the fierce eyes of the competitors. Some pairs arose to discuss their game plan, while others relied on the intuition between themselves. But soon, Spanish Honor Society president, senior Vanessa Garcia, shouted, “3, 2, 1, GO!” The players grabbed ten dominoes each, used the remaining pieces to determine which team went first, and received a special squeeze of the shoulders: a gesture of good luck. The first matches of the Spanish Honor Society’s Domino Night had just commenced, marking a great night of celebrating Hispanic culture. 

   The participants played three rounds of Double Nine dominoes (opens, semi-finals, and finals) on domino tables that replaced the mahogany ones of Senior Square. Junior Ryan Romero donated one of the tables, whose legs supported not just the game, but a history too. “That domino table has been in the family for over 10 years,” the SHS member says. “It depicts some of the Colombian culture because my uncle is Colombian and some Dominican culture because my aunt is Dominican.” The table recognized the two countries with their respective flags as the background, a table that would eventually be used to reveal the winning team of Domino Night.

   Eruptions of triumph, alongside the sudden sounds of scooting chairs, were heard sporadically as some teams beat their opponents quickly and others more slowly. Teams even turned heads from their own game to watch others celebrate. However, time prompted officers to quickly attend to soda and coffee spills from trembling tables and set up for the next matches. Round One required pairs to be the first to win three games before advancing to the semi-finals. 

   As the number of occupied tables started to dwindle, semi-finalists found themselves surrounded by their defeated adversaries; the stakes were high. “There was a lot of pressure and a lot of energy. You could feel the tension,” points out junior and SHS Secretary of Members Valeria Mesa. Careful thought and consideration were put into each slammed domino—it took seconds, minutes even, for the next piece to be laid. But of course, players had to be eliminated. Round Two was played best-of-three. Teams were dropping fast. Eventually, the final two—seniors Tyler Pujals and Manuel Villar and Ms. Battle and Mr. Capiro—made it to Round 3, the fiercest and final matchup. 

   It felt like hours before each domino met the table; the concept of luck was at an all time low. Both teams inspected the game, strategically counting the amount of numbers played and what tiles hid behind their opponents fingers—the dominoes no longer laid in the table’s trenches. And then they inspected each other with occasional side-eyes. The crowd was now massive, withdrawing all the oxygen from the air with their deep breaths. “It was really suspenseful but exciting. It made me feel like [I’m in] a Hispanic household,” says sophomore, and son of Mr. Capiro, Dylan Capiro. The match reached a stalemate when no player could pair their tiles with a yellow six or a purple nine. The lowest domino in hand would determine the victor. 

   Mr. Capiro held the winning piece of ivory. “It was surprising. I did not expect it,” says the behavior specialist. “Last night, we weren’t even signed up for it, and then we [just] decided to jump in and that was it.” Between the yellow lights and thundering applause, Senior Square turned into a storm of celebration. “It was a lot of great competition,” says assistant principal Ms. Battle. “I learned a lot about the game of dominoes. Awesome family atmosphere.” “And you connected with your partner,” Capiro added. Battle and Capiro had their pictures taken alongside their runner ups, Tyler and Manuel.

   And that’s when the unexpected happened: Ms. Battle and Mr. Capiro handed their envelopes of $50 each to Tyler and Manuel, a thrilling moment for the four of them. Hugs, handshakes, and looks of bewilderment were exchanged and more pictures were snapped. 

   But sheer luck seemed like destiny to Tyler. “Well you know it’s no surprise. I mean me and Manny both have that Cuban blood in us, so we came in here with the expectation to walk away as victors, even though we didn’t really win,” the senior says. “They beat us fair and square but it was great competition,” Manny, the less competitive of the two, added. “Great event, very fun,” Tyler agreed. 

   Although Mr. Capiro relinquished his prize to Tyler, he did not dismiss his victory. “We did win. But we gave it up. I just want to be on the record,” he says, jokingly.

   Junior and SHS Vice President Valerie Glen believes the event was a huge success. “Everyone was having fun, everyone was so involved. The process was a lot, but it was worth it because it looked pretty and all of our members put so much effort into making this happen,” she recaps.

   With this in mind, the prospect of a second Domino Night doesn’t look so far-fetched. “We are looking forward to doing it soon. We’re going to see if maybe [we can have another one] second semester, but if not, for sure next year,” Valerie expresses hopefully. 

   With the intense rivalry and ferocious battles, Domino Night made a name for itself in SHS’s books. However, the inclusivity and warmness that was on display that night stole the show. “I think it’s more about the time shared with everybody here,” Mr. Capiro concludes. “And with that, everybody wins.”