WQS Casino Night

On a dark and stormy night in early March, on the very weekend before finals no less, something lured Andover students out of their hibernation. It was an event so impressive, so sophisticated and so fun that it could only be West Quad South’s annual Casino Night, which transformed Kemper Auditorium into our very own Foxwoods this year. Let’s face it, there’s nothing like blowing off some steam with fake gambling. Kemper was quite a scene. Seated at green felt-clad tables, dealers dressed in tuxes and called, “All bets down!” while a little yellow ball rolled around the roulette spinner. Euphoric cries of “Yes!” and despairing howls of “No!” filled the room as oversized dollar bills changed hands at lightning speed. The stakes were high and the competition was fierce among tables of friends. Intermittent cheers, excited squeals and groans punctuated the steady flow of techno music provided by Taryn Ferguson. Students, dressed either casually or in true Las Vegas attire in anticipation of the Las Vegas Dance later that night trickled in throughout the evening, paying a small fee for a wad of fake money with which to participate in the night’s festivities. By playing Blackjack, Roulette or Texas Hold’em Poker, students gambled to win enough fake money to bid in the auction at the end of the night. “Blackjack’s my favorite,” said Chioma Ngwudo ’11, after accumulating a large pile of counterfeit cash. After winning a round herself, Morgan Healey ’09 said, “This is a little addicting, I’m not going to lie…I kind of feel like I’m in Vegas—just a little bit!” Peter Washburn, Cluster Dean of West Quad South, said that he had chosen these games because they were easy for beginners to learn and enjoy. “[Each year,] a lot of kids will come and they’ll be here all night,” he said. According to Washburn, Casino Night, which is an Andover tradition that has been around for “a long time,” benefits a different charity every year. This year, the charity was CEO 4 Teens. Co-founded by Brooks Dyroff ’09 in 2006, CEO 4 Teens, which stands for Creating Educational Opportunities for Teenagers, is a nonprofit organization that helps young adults in developing countries. Recently, CEO 4 Teens raised funds to provide students in Indonesia with opportunities to take English and Computer courses that can help them get higher paying jobs. By creating scholarships and micro-finance initiatives, CEO 4 Teens has also helped people in Taiwan, Haiti and Kenya to pursue the educations they need to improve their job prospects. But let’s get back to the casino, where a live auction began around 10pm. Andover students who had earned mountains of cash were ready to bid on items that included a study basket, baked goods, gift certificates for local shops and much more. The night’s favorite prizes included a ride in a vintage Volkswagen convertible to get ice cream with Marc Koolen, Instructor in Biology, which sold for 24,000 fake dollars, and two 55-minute massages downtown which each sold for over 30,000 fake dollars. As bidders vied for these highly sought-after items, there were a number of heated exchanges. The room rang with screams and catcalls as chaos reigned and students fought for the auctioneer’s attention. After the last item had been snatched away, the tension dissipated, and students reluctantly returned to their pre-exam state of misery—with only the memory of Casino Night to sustain them through the coming week.