Proposition on Improving Holiday Fest
The Holiday Fest is intended to bring together the ULS Upper School community. A holiday successfully serves as a vehicle for an evening of this sort, as it marks the time of year with an aura of cheer and solemnity. However, I think proximity to Christmas should be avoided as it can create divisiveness rather than unity. With that in mind, I suggest that the event be rescheduled toward the time of Thanksgiving.
Most students’ families celebrate this holiday, regardless of religion or creed. Because of the nature of Thanksgiving, the importance of the dinner would be augmented. The presentations given can still exist, but in a revised form. There could possibly be some kind of tribute to Thanksgiving. In addition, the religious presentations should reflect the main ideals of their respective religions. Referenced holidays need not be bound to the time of year but rather to significance. For instance, a Christian would speak about Lent/Easter and Christmas, a Jew about Yom Kippur and Passover, and so on. Invocations can be requested but not expected. I understand why a presentation by a student is desired, but the reason behind the presentation must not be forgotten. If a student is reluctant to speak, the organizers can turn to teachers, parents, and in extreme circumstances, people who are not part of the ULS community. Theoretically, these invocations would better focus attention on religions and devotions of those at ULS. The Thanksgiving season can unite but also serve as a platform for religion.
However, the Thanksgiving approach brings some difficulty. Scheduling would pose a problem, given the Wednesday half day—the evening would seem a chore to many. In addition, many students and families leave the area for vacations once school is out. Therefore, the banquet should fall on Tuesday evening. Should this happen, the senior skit would be moved to the In-School Spirit Concert. It is better suited to this slot due to the frivolous atmosphere of the last day of Spirit Week. The story on which the skit is based can be any children’s tale and not be restricted to those whose theme is Christmas. Regarding the Holiday Concert, I see no reason why it should not remain on the Thursday before Winter Break. Altering its date would perhaps cause difficulty to those in the Band and Chorale because the amount of time between each concert would be changed.
I would like to add two more things. First, if the Thanksgiving time seems to bring more trouble than good, keep in mind that the event need not fall then. The banquet and invocations can occur on any day but the best choice is one preceding some sort of calendar landmark. The Thursday before Spring Break is a viable option. Second, all of these changes should have no effect on the Lessons and Carols at Christ Church—though a dinner would not follow, perhaps the concert could.