By, Katie Tsai
Most Winsor girls are not exactly social butterflies who party every weekend. Oftentimes, our lives seem to revolve around academics and extracurricular activities, and during these times our social needs are neglected. I have heard Upper School students complaining about their lack of social interaction outside of Winsor and some even joking about how we have no social lives whatsoever. I, myself, have often compared my social life to that of my friends who attend private high schools with rigorous academic programs like Winsor’s. Although, like me, they sometimes struggle to find a balance between their studies and downtime, one key difference between their social lives and mine exists: at least once a month, they attend a school-sponsored event, ranging from a casual dance to a more formal theme-based event such as Casino Night (in which people play casino games using fake money) and Carnival (where booths are set up and people can play games to win prizes). Without these school events, my friends admit that their social lives would be very similar to many of those at Winsor—ones which, although fulfilling at school, feel unsatisfactory on the weekends.
Currently, Winsor’s annual school-run events include Spirit Week and Under the Lights (UTL) in October, Semi in December, and Prom for juniors and seniors in April, as well as those run by student groups, such as Jamnesty in February and SLAMP in May. Yet even with these, a lull exists. For juniors and seniors, the expansive four-and-a-half month period between Semi and Prom may leave some craving another dance or a different type of social event. For freshman and sophomores, this lull begins after Semi and lasts for the rest of the school year. Considering how demanding Winsor can be at times, school functions act not only as a source of fun and entertainment but also as a much-needed stress reliever. As Sophia B. ’19 notes, “The Winsor environment tends to be one of stress and pressure, and I feel like we are constantly in a work mode…A more relaxed event at Winsor would create a sense of community based on more than just academics.”
Besides students’ need to have fun, relax, and be part of a community, there is another reason that we should have more social opportunities. Ellisya L. ’19 believes “that Winsor should have more school events…because it allows the students to gain social skills that we need once we graduate from Winsor. Many students here go to school together for years and somewhat forget how to make new friends, but that is not the case once we graduate. It’s important that we are able to improve our communication with strangers, and I think school events would be a good step towards improving [these skills].” In order for this to happen, Winsor could invite students from other schools to some, if not all, of its functions, and perhaps there could be some organized activities designed to promote social interaction among the students. As anyone who has gone to Semi knows, even when boys from our brother schools attend, boys and girls tend to congregate in clusters and are too shy to leave their group of friends. Since we are still developing our communication skills, few of us feel comfortable approaching complete strangers, but if we saw the same people at get-togethers throughout the year, and if we had interactive activities at these social gatherings, most likely we would develop new friendships.
Of course, I recognize the possible reasons for not having more events. Funding is one concern. After having been a part of this year’s Semi planning committee, I learned firsthand that activities such as these are a lot more costly than I had initially thought. Though Winsor does not have a budget for events, the juniors planning Semi wanted to keep total expense as low as possible. Furthermore, Mrs. Markenson states, “One challenge we have is the need for chaperones. Every US faculty member is required to chaperone an event, and we already have a lot of events. (I am including the Class V and Class VII retreats, dances, Jamnesty, movie nights, etc.) There are also challenges with the calendar and finding time for more events.” We also need to be aware of how hosting more functions may affect families. For example, if we host a Casino Night during which students don formal attire, students who want to go may feel the pressure to buy an outfit that they cannot afford.
Despite these concerns, I still believe that Winsor should try to host more social gatherings, especially if students feel that their social lives would be greatly improved. If extravagant affairs are too costly, an informal dance with no decorations would suffice. If popular enough, the cost of admission could balance out the cost of a DJ, the only part of the dance that would cost money. For students or families with financial concerns, an expensive formal dress would not be necessary. An informal dance, or even an interactive game night, with other schools would both fulfill Winsor girls’ need to relax and have fun while also allowing them to practice the social skills that will be essential later in life. Therefore, I believe that hosting a few casual events this year both would greatly benefit the student body and could be the springboard from which we may consider hosting other get-togethers in the future.