Community / Opinion

Dana Hall should be more active about introducing traditions

Traditions have always been a huge part of Dana Hall, and it is something that many students learn to love and enjoy over their high school years. However, new students are often surprised, caught off guard, confused, or intimidated by these traditions and I’m glad to hear that the school is taking a more active role next year to explain and introduce these traditions.

“We have student leaders who help run orientation. The hope would be that student leaders would take different traditions and really walk through their favorite parts about it, the hardest part about it, and what I wish I knew, very much like a student panel,” says Lydia Stoye, Upper School Dean of Students and 9th Grade Class Dean.

Probably everyone in this school has been surprised by seniors suddenly wearing all-black and dressed up on a Thursday morning, confused about sophomores wearing funny costumes with the sudden influx of candy, or intimidated by the moon and stars symbols. When I witnessed the first black day during my sophomore year, I was scared by all the seniors dressed in black with high heels, thinking that I had missed out on an important announcement. Later, I had intentionally avoided wearing all black on any occasion because it seemed like an unwritten rule that only seniors are allowed to wear all black. 

Without an official introduction, many of us had to piece information together and learn about these traditions ourselves, which can oftentimes cause misinformation and thus even more intimidation. I would have appreciated it if the school had warned younger students about black day and explained the significance of the clothing colors.

Currently, the school is very active in introducing traditions to the respective classes, telling them why this tradition is important and what will happen. For example, sophomores learn about senior/sophomore weeks in advance and seniors start to prepare for this tradition at the start of the school year. However, Dana Hall is much more passive about explaining these traditions to other grades–who may not be involved but are still affected by these events–waiting for new students to either learn from their friends or gather information while the events are happening.

I believe that Dana should try to actively introduce and remind students about upcoming traditions, regardless of their grades, so that new members of our community will not be intimidated or confused. I am not proposing that every single detail should be disclosed, nor for Midwinter to no longer be a secret, but rather to reduce the confusion for new students. For example, the school can tell new students during orientation that seniors wear all black once every month to countdown graduation or how senior/sophomore is a 3-day tradition that allows for the two classes to form a deeper bond.

The administration team as well as the student council is aware of this issue and I’m glad to hear that they are already planning to take up a more active role in the next school year. Different traditions will be introduced in small portions in between events during orientation and student leaders will also share their experiences so that new students understand the anticipation for all of these traditions and why they are so special to Dana Hall. In addition, the school is also planning on reminding students about each tradition a week in advance so that no students will be caught off guard throughout the school year.

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