Special Events Welcome the Holidays


Brian Wilcox

Students hold candles, each lit from a single flame, and sing holiday music at Lessons and Carols last Sunday.

With a menorah, a kinara, a lit tree in the main hallway, and the aroma of gingerbread in the Dining Hall, the holiday season has officially begun.

Jazz music performed by six members of Right Brain Logic, the school’s jazz band, filled the main hallway last Friday as members of the community gathered to help decorate the community Christmas tree. The tree, set up in the main foyer, glistened with white lights and ornaments. The school set out decorations, cookies, and drinks, as friends and families gathered to welcome the holiday season. Students posed in front of the tree and took pictures with Polaroid cameras to either hang on the tree as ornaments or save as momentos. Mrs. Lisa Brown, director of events and special projects, said, “I enjoy seeing everyone get into the holiday spirit and work together to create a beautiful tree. The jazz band really added to the event. It felt so festive, and everyone seemed to have a blast!”

Placing a tree outside the Tremaine Gallery is a tradition dating back many years, but decorating it as a community event started just three years ago. Now, the annual tradition attracts students and faculty families alike to gather and enjoy a festive start to the winter season. Dining Services, Grounds, and Student Activities all worked in conjunction to set up the tree, food, and musical performance.

In order to honor the many holidays that community members celebrate, the school also displayed a kinara for Kwanzaa, which is observed from Wednesday, December 26 to Tuesday, January 1 in honor of African-American heritage, and a menorah for Hanukkah. The first night of menorah lighting took place last Sunday outside the head of school’s office. Jay Wright ’20 said, “Aside from every Hotchkiss student going home to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays with their families, they get a chance to celebrate with their Hotchkiss family too […and] make memories and traditions here.”

Another annual tradition, the gingerbread house build, took place in the dining hall last Sunday and attracted over 300 students, faculty families, and staff for a creative break before exam time. In preparation, Dining Services ordered 200 gingerbread house kits and 300 pounds of confectioners sugar for icing. In order to join in the build, participants donated money or placed a toy for local children in need under the tree in the Dining Hall.  

While many participants constructed a traditional gingerbread house, a creative few used their pieces to build a ship or a multi-level mansion. Dan Pai ’19 even built his Middle Eastern history project, a mosque set in Egypt, out of the gingerbread. Completed gingerbread structures are on display in the Dining Hall throughout the rest of the semester.

Ms. Nancy Vaughan, wellness administrator and organizer of the build, said, “I love to walk around and see how different each and every house is, even though everyone started out with exactly the same options. Two-year-old children to 70-year-old children – we are all children when it comes to the holiday season!”  

To continue the festivities, the Senior class gathered last Monday from 9:15 to 10 p.m. at Frank House, home of Mr. Craig Bradley, head of school, to drink hot chocolate and learn carols. Then, the class journeyed around campus and sang songs, including “Frosty the Snowman,” “I Have a Little Dreidel,” and “Jingle Bells.”