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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Senior Mag 2023: Tony Fernandes: the milk man we needed

Arnav Swamy
Tony Fernandes drinks a carton of almond milk during the Feb. 11, 2022 rally, an action that made him infamous across the school as the milk man.

Tony Fernandes is a man of many talents.

He has walked around campus in a “University of Your Mom” tanktop, done cartwheels and push-ups during his junior year U.S. History class, sang with his friend Dustin Peng in their “Yim Ranch” AP Calculus BC music video and gotten repeatedly “folded” by Sohum Bhan in wrestling matches. 

But most know him from a milk incident that occurred on Feb. 11, 2022, an iconic moment when he walked uninvited onto the field during an outdoor rally with a carton of almond milk and drank it. Spending several minutes on the field, he left both staff members and students questioning whether he was part of the act until he made the mistake of staying on the field even during the sophomore performance. 

His cover was blown — he couldn’t have been a sophomore and junior at the same time — and he got dragged off the field by assistant principal Matthew Torrens.

After a long trek to the office, a 20-minute lecture from a livid Torrens and getting suspended for the rest of the school day, many students voiced their support for Tony’s bold gesture in a widespread “#freetony” movement.

“I didn’t expect all the support,” Tony said. “I thought people would just be like who’s this dumb dude drinking milk. I felt very honored knowing that everyone had my back.”

Now, he finds great pride in sparking this movement and views it as the most significant moment in his high school experience, one in which he “unified the entire school under one cause.”

With all the attention, however, Tony believes his milk drinking has been overanalyzed when he was simply a man who wanted to drink milk.

“People projected a lot of weird fantasies onto my milk,” Tony said. “They’re trying to psychoanalyze me, but it was not that deep. [Torrens] told me that two parents thought it was racist. I was like ‘bruh.’” 

The rising action to Tony’s milk drinking was simply a series of coincidental events. It began with Anika Jain giving Blake Zhou the carton of almond milk that morning. Tony saw Blake later that day, bewildered and disoriented with a random carton of milk, and decided to help him out with drinking it.

“We were just drinking the almond milk during tutorial, and I was like, it would be a lot more funny if I was doing it during the rally,” Tony said. “I thought as soon as I walked on, they’d be like, ‘Hey, could you please go to your seat?’ But no one cared. So I just stayed there.”

Though Tony believes this milk incident is his most iconic moment of high school, he has also carried out many undercover antics. One of these is his chess club poster creation, which he has kept secret apart from when a massive mob of students crowd around him in the J-room or physics room when he makes them. 

“I’ve had this unbearable weight on my chest,” Tony said. “No one has known about this. This is the biggest secret I’ve kept up until now. I was in charge of the chess club posters. That’s right.”

Additionally, in sophomore year, Tony fully recited a Raid Shadow Legends advertisement script during an online World History class with Jerry Sheehy in response to an entirely unrelated question. Sheehy promptly muted him, but asked him after class what he was talking about.

In response, Tony said, “It’s Raid Shadow Legends, a free to play online multiplayer …”

Tony’s idiosyncratic behavior has also sometimes expanded beyond just history classes. In Natasha Ritchie’s English 11 Honors class, he began sniffing scented markers because of one of his personal favorite TV shows, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

“At some point [in the show], they put glue in a bag and just started huffing it,” Tony said. “I was like dang, that goes hard. They just like me for real.”

From the first time he sniffed a marker, he was hooked, and he continued the activity each time Ritchie brought out the “nice scented highlighters” for a class activity.

Tony has certainly established himself as one of the funniest practical jokers in the grade, and he has done this on purpose. He sees his unconventional moments as an integral part of his life and a big part of breaking the monotony of the cyclical nature of school weeks.

“I just feel like school is draining most of the time and if you take life too seriously, you’re just trapped,” Tony said. “I guess the reason why I just do dumb stuff is because it helps me feel alive and not like a corporate drone.”

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