In a year that could have been defined by distance, the class of 2021 gathered on the playdeck to celebrate a St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s milestone. On a brisk fall day, there was warmth in the air as students reflected on the significance of the rugby shirts that the school gives to eighth graders, marking their senior status in the student community.
Acknowledging the unique circumstances of this fall, and the leadership and commitment shown by the eighth grade class, students received a special token of admiration, a pin depicting the school’s mascot, Hudson the Hawk.
“This eighth grade class has a long tradition of representing us proudly as Hawks in the classroom and beyond,” said Upper Division Director Katie Rocker, “demonstrating kindness, leadership, and always striving to reach their potential.”
As the students put on their pins, classmates took turns sharing kind words and memories from over the years. “By the end of this ceremony, you will all be wearing these markers of bravery, strength, leadership, and kindness,” said Ms. Rocker.
The rugby ceremony was one of a number of ways that faculty are endeavoring to make the eighth graders’ final year at St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s memorable and to honor school traditions, with perhaps a few adjustments. Though COVID protocols prevented the school from staging the annual schoolwide Christmas Pageant, Director of Children’s Theater Katie De Vries helped the class reinvent the performance, staging a video production using still photographs, recorded music, and the traditional narration. The new format also gave students a chance to showcase their individual talents, taking the photographs, performing original songs, and creating artwork for the program. (The Pageant will be shared via Livestream on Friday, Dec. 18, at 9 a.m. via the school website.)
Another tradition that continued, with a twist, was the Nursery-Eighth Grade Gingerbread House project. In a typical year, the eighth graders would spend a December morning with “buddies” in the nursery classes, building gingerbread houses together and reading holiday stories.
To avoid mixing cohorts, instead of gathering in the nursery classrooms, this year each eighth grade homeroom visited with their nursery buddy class via Google Meet for a read-aloud of The Gingerbread Man.
“This was a way to continue building meaningful connections among students across divisions, despite the protocols we have in place,” said Ms. Rocker. “These connections matter to the eighth graders and to the nursery students too, and we were glad to continue the tradition in a new way.”