Dr. Harriton 2021: Interviews with Student Council Officers


Dr. Harriton—the night of all nights—is still happening. That’s right, even after a year of social distancing, virtual school, and COVID, Harriton’s biggest event of the year is planned to take place on Friday, May 21. I met with Harriton’s Student Council President, Andy Wu, and Sergeant-in-Arms, Eli Feldman on Zoom to discuss anything and everything to do with this year’s Dr. Harriton. Here’s what they had to say. 

The Harriton Banner: For Freshmen or anyone who is not familiar with Dr. Harriton, what is the show and why is it so special?

Eli Feldman: Dr. Harriton is a talent show put on by Student Council that features 8-10 upperclassmen competitors. The thing that’s so special about the show is that everyone in the school gets into it and the amount of preparation that goes into the show really pays off in the end as one spectacular night… I would say that [it] is the one event that brings the whole school together—student council members get involved in planning it, but anyone from any grade can come and see it. It’s really a community-building event.

Andy Wu: It’s our annual big fundraising show…Upperclassmen compete and display some talents and do some dances…It is usually a few hours and there are a lot of sponsors, and the proceeds go to whatever charity the Student Council chooses that year. I personally think it’s really cool because it brings people together. It’s eight guys who usually wouldn’t be friends, and it’s a nice dynamic. 

THB: What differences between this Dr. Harriton and previous years can you see in advance?

EF: The biggest difference will probably be the audience. Normally the auditorium is sold out and extra seating is needed. This year, we are still not sure how big of an audience we will be allowed to have in the auditorium, but it probably won’t be close to what it is like in normal years. Another thing is, this year because of all the restrictions, there are only going to be eight contestants instead of ten…Also, most people who are watching it are going to be watching it on the computer or some form of live streaming, so we wanted to shorten the show. 

AW: Yeah—we’re definitely not getting a full house, but it might not be too different. I’m sure you’ve heard many times this year that people are like, “Oh we don’t know what’s going to happen.” And of course that still holds true for us, but we’ll see what happens…We may rearrange some of the dances, maybe change around some of the choreography just so it’s more conscious of social distancing, but other than that most of the aspects of the show I think will stay pretty consistent.

THB: Which charities are the Student Council supporting this year? 

EF: Philabundance and the Lower Merion Township Scholarship Fund

THB: Why is it so important to have Dr. Harriton, especially this year? 

EF: The amount of bonding that’s been lost this year due to the pandemic is crazy and as Student Council, we felt the need to give the student body some feeling of normalcy and community that we haven’t been able to do much of this year.

AW: I will say that, of course, this entire year has been a little bit disconnected…Not really a lot of community [bonding] at our school. Especially the beginning of our school year has been pretty rough, just because we started out in a very different format with online classes and we haven’t really had any events.

EF: RAMily Feud!

AW: No, yeah—I was saying with the exception of RAMily Feud. In terms of spirit weeks or pep rallies, even sports games… We haven’t really had an event that let people come together, so we’re hoping to bring that with Dr. Harriton. And pushing it back to May was a decision we made this year, so we can have at least one event this year where students can come together, maybe even in person, to watch. I think it’s fitting because it is the one show that does tend to reach a lot of different people…Dr. Harriton usually interests the entire school. 

EF: So many memories and fun things have just been lost this year. We thought that this was the one high school experience that everyone loves and is really needed during this time. 

AW: If we can get Dr. Harriton, then it’s one event that people can hold on to. 

THB: What are your favorite memories to do with Dr. Harriton personally (first time seeing the show, being in the show, etc.)?

EF: Andy has limited experience. So he’ll have to think a lot about that. 

Andy won last year’s 13th Annual Dr. Harriton

AW: My freshman year I saw it for the first time and it was probably one of the coolest things ever. And then, of course, last year I participated. I guess one memory that was just really nice, and this is super dumb, but one day at practice we were bored so we looked through random pick-up lines on the internet for two hours straight. It was very funny and it’s a good example of what the show’s about just because it’s so sporadic. It’s a nice example of the dynamic of the guys, of how we work, and what the show’s about. It’s meant to be a fun and light-hearted show. 

EF: I was in 8th grade the first time I saw the show because my older brother was involved with it and he wanted me and my family to see it. The night of the show I was mesmerized by everything going on and from that point on, I knew I wanted to be involved in the show anyway I could when I got to Harriton. As Andy said, it was just a wild experience, nothing like we had seen before…From that moment forward I was like, we have to do this. 

THB: What are you most excited about: putting the show together, being a part of the show, raising money for a good cause, etc.? 

EF: Personally, I’m most excited about putting the show together and putting a lot of work in, because I know in the end, it’ll translate into a great show for the whole Harriton community.

AW: If this is going on the record, I should say charity. I’m super excited for that, but I will admit, I’m a little selfish and I am excited to work with the boys and just be at practices, see how they work together and how the dances come along. It is just more personable and something that I find to be very gratifying to just see the progress, see them bonding, see them getting along. 

EF: We had our first practice on Wednesday in the wrestling gym and we taught them a couple of basic moves, and we went over the calendar. At the end, we had an extra ten minutes, and since the four-way nets were up and we had a ball, we played a couple of rounds. It was great bonding. Just looking ahead, we’re going to be forming connections with all the contestants for the next two months. That I would say is one of the main things that’ll be fun looking forward. 

Do you have any concerns about putting on Dr. Harriton this year?

AW: The obvious concern is if one of the contestants were to come down with a case of COVID, then that would throw a lot of things off track. The other concern is the night of the show, I’m not sure if it’ll have the same energy, depending on if we have an audience in the auditorium. Of course, if there’s a lot of people, that gets the excitement going. If there’s not, then maybe the contestants won’t be as excited for it (which I hope they still will be). Either way, even if it is only live-streamed, it is a very enjoyable event.

EF: I would agree with the COVID thing, but you know, we’re just going to roll with it. That’s just how the year has been, so nothing new. We’re going to find ways to adapt and with excitement; I agree that it might have a little different feeling for the contestants while they’re up on stage, not seeing as many people in the audience, but at the same time, the talents know that what they’re doing is bringing people joy and distracting them maybe just for one evening.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with Harriton about Dr. Harriton?

EF: Even though this year’s Dr. Harriton is going to be a little different, it’s still going to be a great show so GET HYPE HARRITON!!!! 

AW: Get excited and don’t miss it! Some people may be like, “Oh it’s online, it’s dumb,” or “I have better things to do with my time.” But honestly no, I don’t think they have better things to do with their time. Even if it is live-streamed, I think it’s going to be something that everyone can enjoy.

EF: I will say especially for those people who haven’t seen the show yet: freshmen and students who are new to Harriton—this is your opportunity because in the past it was harder to secure a Dr. Harriton ticket. This year, if you want to see the show, you can see the show. It’s still going to bring the same energy, it’s still going to bring the same community bonding, it’s still going to be as fun a show as always, so there’s no excuse. See the show, it will blow your mind, it will be really fun… It’ll be an end-of-the-year thing to cap off a year where we’ve lost so many events. This one is staying and it’ll be great. So go see it!

You heard them! Get excited for Dr. Harriton, and watch the show on May 21. You won’t want to miss it!