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From the Archives: Brood X through the Decades

While it would be unfair to blame 2021’s Brood X cicadas on Gilman’s Class of 2004, it is worth noting that 17 years ago, the Class of 2004 thought ahead to 2021. In their Senior Will published in the 2004 Cynosure, the Class of 2004 bequeathed “Cicada Brood X” to the year 2021. Brood X held a special place for the Class of 2004. As the 2004 Bulletin noted, “The 105 members of the Class of 2004 will always remember Maryland’s first cicada appearance of the 21st century. Gilman’s youngest alumni celebrated the 107th Founders Day, not from the traditional Old Gym steps, but from within the Redmond C. S. Finney Athletic Center—sent inside by Brood X.” 

Seventeen years ago, the Gilman community made the best of the noisy cicadas. The cicadas made a special appearance in the 2003-2004 Traveling Men’s CD Step It Up, which featured a 19-second bonus track of cicadas.  Right after the graduation ceremony, long-time Gilman faculty member Steve Siwinski joined Jonathan Pinney ‘04 and Isaac Boltansky ‘04 in a celebratory bite of the cicadas.

Of course, this was not the first time Brood X appeared at Gilman. In 1987, the 90th Founders Day was held inside the Old Gym, which at that point was the main gym. Current Gilman faculty member Brooks Matthews ‘87 remembers that it was hard to avoid walking anywhere near the Old Gym parking lot without stepping on a cicada. Assistant Head of School Peter Kwiterovich ‘87 remembers some of his classmates picking up the cicadas as they walked into the Gym. 

The Class of 1970 remembers a similar Founders Day experience. Although the weather was nice enough for the Class of 1970 to walk their last mile outside, the ceremony itself was held indoors in the Old Gym due to the cicada outbreak.

This year might prove to be another Gilman first. A dig into the Archives indicates that 2021 is likely the first time that Founders Day will be held outdoors during a Brood X cicada outbreak.  In 1919, the 22nd Founders Day, which included an address by Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Navy, was held in the Fisher Memorial Dining Hall. In 1936, the Founders Day ceremony was held in the Gymnasium. It’s important to note, however, that for many years the annual Founders Day was held indoors regardless of the weather or natural events, so it’s hard for us to put full blame on the cicadas!