Illuminating the History of Winsor’s Under The Lights

By Annie A. ’21

On the 25th anniversary of Under the Lights (UTL), a tradition we have all grown to love and look forward to, it seems only fitting to reflect back upon its beginnings and how the event has changed over the years. UTL originated in 1994 when lights were first installed on the fields. What event would be complete without a little scandal though? Mr. Braxton says he “found out there is a controversy: is this the 25th anniversary of UTL?” In a way, the answer is no, and, in a way, it’s yes. Mr. Braxton continued that in 1994, UTL really was “just the games, without a Spirit Week or pep rally. There were games physically under the lights, but that was it. The second year is when UTL as we know it really [started].” 

It seems like everyone has a favorite UTL memory. Jenna P. ’20’s earliest is “staying late and watching all the games and having food dipped in the chocolate fountain.” Chloe M. ’21 says, “when I first came in Class III, I remember being so excited for Spirit Week and UTL. I feel like it’s really a representation of how close-knit our community is.”  Ms. Stern recalled past Spirit Weeks, saying, “there was one year when a theme was ‘dress as your favorite holiday’. One student came as ‘pipe day’ because earlier in the year a pipe had burst and school was closed.” Another of her favorite costumes was a student who “dressed as a ‘perfect man’ on mythical creatures day.” 

Both Mr. Braxton and Ms. Stern have worked at Winsor for longer than any current students have been alive, but UTL was around before they started their tenures. Even twenty years ago, “it had been going on a few years and was already a big deal— the rallies used to be in the old gym,” shared Ms. Stern. The introduction of the wildcat mascot was a big step towards the homecoming event we now recognize as UTL. Before “Ms. Geromini got the wildcat, we didn’t really have a mascot. It was the Winsor lamps, but come on. I think that made a big difference,” Ms. Stern continued. 

During the construction of the LOC, a major concern was ‘what will happen to UTL?’ For a few years, while the gym and one field were out of commission, UTL took on another form, but the school spirit remained! Of course Spirit Week remained constant, but the pep rally was held in the courtyard, and not all the teams played on the Friday because the schedule had to be altered to accommodate having only one field. For example, in 2016, I played on Mid 2 Field Hockey and our ‘UTL’ game was scheduled for the day before the actual event. However, the “joyous week of spirit and community” that Mr. Braxton so deeply cherishes remained. 

Over the years the form of the cheer competition has also changed. Originally, the prize was “Class I through VIII— There was not a separate Lower School competition. Class I could win ‘Best Cheer,’ Mr. Braxton recalled. Cheers over time have gotten significantly longer as the pep rally evolved into a dance competition. This year, SASS instituted criteria for judging and a one minute minimum for actual cheer time in order to guide the rally back to its roots centered around building community and generating school spirit (see the article on page__.) 

Get psyched for the rally and games later today. Go Wildcats!