How Winsor Carried Out Traditions Virtually

By Sophia L-D. ’22 and Abby G. ’22

For many years, Winsor and its students have carried out various traditions to celebrate the end of the year and, in particular, to celebrate the seniors. Every grade in the Upper School has a tradition that directly involves their grade and the senior class; Senior Day organized by the Vs, Banner Day organized by the VIs, Ring Day celebrating the VIIs, and Graduation, the most important tradition for the seniors. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual traditions were reconsidered, and alternative plans were created in order to carry out these important celebrations. All of these traditions typically rely on in-person contact and large group gatherings, so grades had to become quite creative in finding an alternative. Here is a list of different traditions and how they were or are going to be carried out.

Senior Day:

Senior Day typically takes place on the last day of classes for the seniors, and it gives each freshman an opportunity to make a poster for a specific senior. This day also occurs simultaneously with College Apparel Day when seniors, if they choose, wear clothes from the college they plan to attend in the fall. Additionally, the freshman class generally also organizes special food, drinks, and music to honor the whole senior class in addition to the personal posters. 

This year, however, the freshmen class got creative, and each Class V student sent actual letters in the mail to their designated senior. Ava Kee ’23 credits the idea to the Class V presidents, Meredith and Sora, and admires their creativity. All in all, Ava really “liked the way it turned out because it was really nice to be able to let a senior friend know how much you appreciate them, how proud you are of them, and how much you look up to them.”

Banner Day:

Every graduating class at Winsor receives a banner designed specifically for their class. These banners are created by the Class VIs who work throughout the year to design, create, and then present the banner. Typically, the banner reveal takes place at an all-school assembly right before the seniors’ last day of classes. After the banner is presented, the sophomores give “happy banner day” posters to a senior of their choice, and the sophomores and seniors take many photos together.

This year the VIs had to come up with an alternative to the physical completion of the banner, the banner presentation, and the specific senior aspect of Banner Day. Ms. Pribble graciously finished creating the banner by using the class’s design and visiting Winsor to sew.  A designated Banner Committee, led by Kayla Springer ’22 and class dean Ms. Plata, brainstormed ideas about how to handle “Banner Day” itself. In an all-school virtual assembly, the Banner Committee presented the banner and the process of creating the banner through a slide show. Each sophomore also sent a personal video to congratulate their selected senior. Kayla reflected,  “I think [the presentation] went well given what is possible with the tech limits, but I think we all wished that we could’ve been in person with the seniors. I think the planning went well given that we could have specific organizing times because we all had free time that lined up, and it went pretty smoothly. It’s unfortunate that we weren’t all able to have a part in putting together the banner, but I think it came together really well, and we definitely need to give a huge shoutout to Ms. Pribble for finishing it for us.”

Ring Day: 

Ring Day is the day that the Class VIIs get their Winsor Rings. This tradition usually entails seniors choosing a specific junior to whom they present a ring. When this celebration takes place on Winsor’s campus, the seniors surprise the juniors in the courtyard with large posters, loud music, and plenty of photo opportunities. Once the juniors receive their rings, they are supposed to go around the school and ask their peers and teachers to twist their rings. If their ring is twisted a certain number of times before graduation, they are supposed to have good luck.

The alternative to Ring Day was challenging to come up with because both faculty and students really wanted to try to create a special experience for the juniors. Winnie Wang ’20 explained that the new plan consists of the seniors’ preparing a bag of goodies, including, but not limited to “candy and other small presents” under a pre-agreed upon budget. Winnie adds that when the seniors “go pick up our diplomas from Winsor next Saturday, [they] will drop off the bag. Then when the juniors come pick up their stuff from school, they’ll receive their bag plus the ring.” She commends the problem solving, saying it “is a fun way for [the seniors] to still be involved in Ring Day and write them a nice card” and is glad that the tradition is more involved for both parties than “the school just sending a ring to each junior’s home.” Pardis Koplos ’21 expressed excitement for this version of Ring Day, saying “I’m excited to see everyone and be back on campus to get our rings!” 

Awards Ceremony: 

Awards Day serves the purpose of celebrating the academic, athletic, and leadership achievements of students at Winsor. There are awards to commemorate students in all grade levels although the majority of the awards are handed out to the seniors to commemorate all they have accomplished in the Winsor community. Parents, siblings, and loved ones of award recipients are invited to this afternoon celebration. Awards Day usually occurs in the commencement tent and concludes with a selection of Winsor’s classic snacks, cookies, and lemonade served in the LOC. 

This year, the Awards Ceremony is being held via Zoom. Instead of coming together in the tent, we came together on Zoom to honor the students who have received awards. The students who have received awards will then pick them up during pick up day. 

Graduation:

Graduation is the biggest event of the spring that marks the senior class’s last moments as Winsor students. The whole school, as well as families and friends of the seniors, gather in the courtyard under the commencement tent for a morning filled with speakers, singing performances, and, most importantly, the presentation of diplomas to the senior class. After graduation, the seniors, friends, family, and teachers mingle around the courtyard to take photos and celebrate the happy day! 

Graduation was the most difficult event to find a solution to because it is such a large and impactful event in a high school student’s life. Winsor wanted the seniors’ input about the proceedings of graduation, but it was a challenge to incorporate the seniors’ desires with restrictions due to COVID-19. The solution came in two parts: virtual zoom graduation on June 9, and the hope for an in-person graduation at a later date. 

The virtual zoom graduation is a mixture of live and pre-recorded speaking and singing to honor the seniors. The seniors will pick up their physical diplomas the following week. Winsor hopes to hold a traditional graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 ideally within the next year. Seniors had mixed emotions about their graduation alternatives. They acknowledge that it was difficult for Winsor to come up with a memorable alternative. Nonetheless, Izzy Leonnetti ’20 felt that “the general consensus was we wanted an in-person graduation, no matter when it might be.” The seniors voiced their opinion towards not holding a Zoom Graduation, but if they did have a Zoom graduation, the seniors certainly wanted their input in it. Izzy continued, “once they announced they were going forward with the Zoom graduation, there was no discussion with the class about how to make sure it reflected what the senior class wanted. To the best of my knowledge, we all truly have no idea what the graduation is going to consist of and we all got no say in what might go into it.” The seniors are looking forward to celebrating their graduation in person when it is safe to do so, and they hope Winsor sticks with their plan to do that.

Traditions have always been and will always be a very important aspect of Winsor. Students and Families are so grateful to Winsor for making sure that these traditions continued in some form even though it had to be virtual. Thanks to the effort and creativity of students and faculty across many grade levels, our community was able to celebrate and carry on these traditions in a time where holding on to some normalcy has been extremely important, and most importantly we all want to celebrate the graduating class that we will miss so much next year!

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