Eve of the E unites Tigers of past and present


William York

The senior class of 2022 partakes in ‘Eve of the E’ festivities on Sept. 29 prior to the lighting of the E on the field.

William York and Elizabeth Connor

Eve of the E is a celebratory event that El Paso High has held, and continues to hold, for their seniors in which the entire field is intricately decorated by luminarias.

The night has been a tradition since the 1940’s, in which over time it became more organized. Originally, it was performed by lighting a giant letter “E” on fire at the edge of the Franklin Mountains, but in 1977 it became an official on-field event and gained its name “Eve of the E.”

“My older brother was a 1964 graduate of El Paso high, and I remember him telling me that he had gone up to the mountain, you know, to light the E. They put diesel- they had coffee cans and rags, and they lit the rags soaked in diesel, and that was what lit up the E on the mountain,”  EPHS alumnus and class of 1977 president, Dan Malone said.

In Malone’s senior year, the students were no longer allowed to make their trek up to the mountain, so they had a problem to solve if they wanted the tradition to continue.

“I thought, well, we can light it on the field, but we need to put some other stuff around it, you know, other than just lighting the E…” said Malone.  Thus, Eve of the E was created and given its name by another alumni, Melanie Roberts, that year’s Spring Fiesta queen.

Each year the celebration becomes more and more organized. For example, present-day resources are not so limited and there are more people that contribute to planning.  Now, the school has electric candles and senior class sponsors.

The sponsors for El Paso High’s senior class of 2021-22 are English teachers Clarissa Marquez and Dawn Zumar.

“We’ve already started planning the design of our field,” Ms.Zumar said. “We’ll come out in the morning, and we’ll set up the field, and then we’ll protect the field all day, and then we come out right before the parade, and we make sure that everything is- the bags haven’t been knocked over, and then the students come after the parade route we meet right up here, and that’s when they get to celebrate.”

Marquez spoke on what goes into the planning and preparations for the event.

“There is a lot that the seniors do within themselves so there’s different events and activities that they have to plan and it all leads up to this big event. It is like our kickoff into the school year itself,” Ms.Marquez said. “It’s everything from setting up the actual little lamp candle, all that good stuff.”

Both Ms.Marquez and Ms.Zumar expressed that Eve of the E requires a lot of planning, but is worth the effort because the event is a very special celebration for the El Paso High seniors.

“The seniors are excited for it because it’s their first big memory of their senior year so that’s going to be the one tradition that they start off their senior year with, and then they’ll add that to their catalogue of memories,” Ms. Zumar said.

Seniors make last minute adjustments to the luminarias on the football field that lit up the design for ‘Eve of the E.’ (William York)

Jackson Hayes, senior class president has been waiting for this since he was a freshman.   

“The most exciting part is getting the memories you know because it’s like, those are all your friends that you’ve been with for all four years and it’s like, we’re almost done, so that’s the idea behind it.” Jackson said about the celebration.

Eve of The E is a time for El Paso high seniors to realize that they don’t have much time left with each other, giving them an opportunity to cherish and enjoy the moment.   

“You don’t have to think too crazy ahead, it’s more just a lot of work on the day, because you have to set it all up,” Jackson said. “There is quite a bit of planning between the shirts for the event, the design, and the team needed for execution, but they have a relatively good amount of time for this planning.”

Principal Mark Paz had quite a bit to say about last year’s Eve of the E which had to be postponed to the end of the school year in June due to COVID-19 restrictions. The event has traditionally been held in the fall as the first major event for seniors or how other schools know it as their senior sunset.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been more sweaty and stinky, because it was hot, humid in the rain and we were still kind of getting wet a little bit and then all the bags… and you get wet as you’re doing it so by the time the event rolled around, I was so exhausted, but it came out really pretty that night and the night was beautiful, it was like ‘Oh this is cool! but man, I’m tired’.”


The 2021-22 Eve of the E design. (Daniel Ornelas)