The (Not-So) Hidden Passions of Mr. Symons: Superheroes and The Beatles

The (Not-So) Hidden Passions of Mr. Symons: Superheroes and The Beatles

Maria Roberts

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting him, Mr. Symons is a PhysEd teacher here at BCA. From his daily outfits that always catch our attention to his ‘Beatles Friday’ tradition, there’s always something interesting happening with him. The Academy Chronicle sat down for a chat to learn more about the man behind the PhysEd class and found out some surprising things. From his fashion sense to the story behind ‘Beatles Friday’, this interview will give you the inside scoop on one of our school’s most iconic figures.

Q: Could you please give a quick introduction of yourself and your background? What led you to BCA?

A: Once I graduated college, I taught two years at a high school and coached football and track, then went back and got my Masters in Sports Psychology; I could coach people physically, get them in shape, but mentally I wasn’t in tune to that. So, getting my degree in Sports Psychology, I was able to make a better mind-body connection with the athletes and started coaching college. I was at the University of Kansas, Rockwell State University, University of North Florida, and the University of Tulsa.

Along the way, I also was fortunate to coach an Olympic athlete: three time Olympic, two time medal winner. That’s kind of a highlight of my coaching to a certain degree. Then once I had a family and they were getting bigger, I decided to move back to Jersey, where I’m really from, and get back to high school teaching, and that’s what ended me up at BCA in that regard.

Q: How did Beatles Friday originate?
A: Well, part of it was because of the pandemic and being away. I wanted to connect to the school somehow, being away, so I thought, you know, I’m a big Beatles fan. I’ve been one since ‘64 when I saw him on The Sullivan Show, and I was fortunate enough to see them at Shea Stadium in 1966 with my best friend Roger; His older brother got us tickets and it was amazing. I mean, I still remember being there and the sounds and the happenings that were going on. It was something else. And so I thought, to me, that always brought me together with my friends, so I thought I’ll offer that to the school. That’s what kind of triggered it. So it just became a regular thing. When I came back to school, I enjoyed doing it, and, nobody said, don’t do it, so I kept it going! I have gotten some positive responses from it, which is always nice.

Q: Do you have a favorite Beatles song?
A: You know, people ask me that all the time, and to me, there’s so many good songs. It fluctuates from time to time. But one of my favorites, it’s always in my top five, is “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” George Harrison does it on the White Album; I really enjoy that one.

Q: Could you talk a little bit about what inspires your unique outfits?

A: Well, again, it goes back to the matching part of it. I get that from my father, I guess, because he was always considered a sharp dresser; things always look good. I’ve always felt, even in my field, when you teach PhysEd, when I coach: you look good, you feel good, and you do good. So that’s part of it, too. I put a lot of emphasis on how I pick them out and it takes me a while. Sounds silly, but it takes me a little bit too long to pick out my outfit these days because I want to make sure, like I said, it matches and it fits the mood that I’m in and things of that nature. So, again, that’s what it stems from. And I have a liking for DC and Marvel with that as well. Of course, on Fridays, it’s Beatles Friday, so I have to wear my Beatles outfit.

Q: Can you walk me through the process of picking out these outfits?
A: Usually during the football season, Monday is a Viking day. If the Vikings win, I’m going to wear something Vikings. If they don’t, then it’s Thor. So Monday is usually my Thor day to pick out one of my Thor T shirts and things to go with that. Tuesdays, you see Captain America. Wednesday is a DC day. I will try to make it a DC day. But part of it, too, is the kind of mood that I’m in because I got so many shirts and stuff I’m going through. But part of it is just you go through it and think ‘Hey, that one makes me feel good’ and that looks good for today. Then, of course, I got to go through the draw up on my socks, socks that match and things. So it takes a little time, but I enjoy doing that. And I come to school feeling good with what I’m wearing.

Q: What sparked your interest in Marvel and DC and superheroes?
Well, growing up as a kid they were big. Everybody had comics. I wish I kept some of the ones I had back then to be worth some money today.
But anyway, we all sat around and read the comics and things in that regard. And reading the Sunday paper, too. That’s where I first started reading them; I wasn’t a big reader in school, but teachers saw that I had an interest there, and so they allowed me to read some of these comics along the way, and that helped improve my reading and again, my love for that.

So that’s kind of the childhood beginnings, but then I just really enjoy it. People who don’t understand how they’re connected to society if you really delve into it. Spiderman has a very good series of comics on drugs and how it hurts society, as well as racism. Both DC and Marvel address these topics. Some of the characters talk about these topics in their series. People think they’re just fun and games, but they have some social commentary with some of this as well.

Q: And do you have a favorite superhero?
Thor is my first. He’s my number one on the Marvel side and it has to be Flash–between Flash and Batman on the DC side.

Q: What’s one thing that most students don’t know about you?
One fun fact about me is that I was voted for having the Best 60’s outfit at last year’s 3-Day “Beatles Fan Fest” in Jersey City.

Thank you, Mr. Symons. And as the Beatles say, “We love you, yeh yeh,  yeh. With a love like that you know you should be glad.. Yeh, yeh, yeh. Yehhhh.”