By Natalie Hutchinson, Upper School Dean of Students
One of the highlights of the Country Day Upper School experience is without a doubt Spirit Week, just ask any alum who will be excited to tell you what year their class won it! There is a massive 5’ tall trophy in my office with perpetual plaques dating back to when the Class of 1990 won as juniors. Suffice it to say, a Spirit Week win is a very big deal. But, what I love about Spirit Week has nothing to do with winning.
Spirit Week is born every spring when class leaders get together and begin thinking about their theme. They send out countless grade-wide surveys, engage in endless debates, change their mind at least once or twice, then finally settle on what their class thinks is the perfect theme. In late April, I take an annual trip down to Bissell campus with a couple of senior leaders to meet with the rising 9th grade leaders. We give them a crash course in what it takes to make a successful Spirit Week because we all know “the work” has to start well before August and September.
“The work” is a labor of love for an entire grade. Their class theme is the inspiration for costume, dance, and decoration committees. Each grade has a budget they have to work within. Students become fashion designers charged with creating costumes for every member of their grade. They become music mixers, snipping together thumping beats and lyrics they know by heart. They are choreographers with the moves to make their class look good for 8 minutes straight. Finally, the class leaders engage in a leadership lab of decision-making and conflict resolution that would put any company board to shame.
Yes, this is a competition and a grade will win the costume, dance, decoration categories, and the overall title, but it’s so much more than that. It’s students collaborating, working together, helping each other, and helping other grades look their best. It’s the unselfish sharing of lessons learned over the years and celebrating each other. It’s the rallying together to donate thousands of pounds of canned goods for Can Do Day, our food drive for Second Harvest Food Bank. Spirit Week is a celebration of who we are, and no one does it like Country Day!