On a normal day, you will find teachers and students smiling as they move through their day. These smiles come in spite of, and in many cases, because of, the hard work they are putting forth. But during the holiday season, there are festivities galore that make these smiles even brighter.
Some are small, grassroots endeavors, like the Ugly Holiday Sweater contest organized by the Community Council or the decorating of a student lounge by a group of students. These reflect the love that students have for the school’s spirit and campus. They care about both and put forth the effort to nurture them. To those who would call today’s teenagers apathetic, I simply shake my head in wonder.
Then there are the events that involve larger segments of the school community. There are holiday celebrations and gift exchanges in the dorms and the Hanukkah party my family hosts every year so students who aren’t home for this holiday can celebrate (my wife’s latkes are legendary!). There is a Solebury teacher who has been organizing our community’s participation in the Adopt-a-Child program where Solebury families, faculty, students, and advisor groups join together to help children in our area have a happy holiday season.
There are also events that bring the whole community together. One of these is Sounds of the Seasons, a night for students, families, and faculty to celebrate and learn about the various traditions of the season—Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Lunar New Year, and Solstice. Each has food made by students and/or their families (there was some amazing cooking done by students this year!) and information about the tradition. Our Solsingers lead us in a community sing-along with some songs from each tradition. I find something really powerful about singing with other people. It makes me feel connected to them in a way few things do. I’m also a Jewish man who really loves “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole, but that’s a story for another day.
One of the highlights of the season for me is our annual holiday dinner for boarding students and faculty. This is a wonderful evening where we all dress up a bit more and enjoy a family-style meal prepared with love by our incredible team of chefs. The administrators serve dinner and everyone shares a wonderful evening together before we leave for break. Who knew my experience when I waited tables at Bob’s Big Boy as a teenager in Roslyn, NY would come in handy in my job as Director of Admissions?
These few weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break are always a little bit hectic, but these events help make it a part of the year I always look forward to. While I don’t need anyone to remind me how lucky I am to be part of a community that is so connected and finds so many ways to make joy and cheer a part of life, this season always helps me appreciate it even more than I normally do.