Traditionnnsss! Traditions! Traditionnnsss! Traditions!

History Department Halloween Costumes, Courtesy of PDS

History Department Halloween Costumes, Courtesy of PDS

Sam Bernadi, Contributing Writer

Over the course of Princeton Day School’s 50 years, many traditions have developed, forming the distinct character PDS has today. Although from first look, it may seem that students spend little time away from their rigorous studies at PDS, it is quite the contrary. During the school year, students partake in a wide range of customs and exciting events, many of which are unique to our institution. Established activities range from athletic events, such as Blue and White Day, to more formal events, like the Maypole Dance. These events allow the school to join together across divisions and departments, causing friendships to form and classmates to work together.

One customary event, the annual Halloween Parade, occurred just a few weeks ago. Prior to the parade, each Upper School class decides upon a theme to all dress as. At the end of the parade, a panel of judges awards the best-costumed grade. This event is considered a great bonding experience and is always lots of fun for all who partake. During the parade, Middle and Lower School students, who dress up as whatever they choose, watch the older students march around the front circle. In the afternoon, the youngest students walk around and display their costumes for the Middle and Upper School students. The older students line the halls, anticipating the parade of little ones.

A tradition that dates back to the days of Miss Fine’s School is the Maypole Dance. It originally served as a graduation event for students. When the school merged with Princeton Country Day, the second graders adopted this tradition. They would perform the dance on the Friday before alumni weekend in front of many former students. In more recent years, however, the Maypole Dance has been performed on May Day (May 1) or as close to it as possible. Instead of having Miss Fine’s School alumni, parents of the second graders and the entire school are invited to watch. The second graders learn a traditional dance for this occasion, which although challenging at times, is also greatly rewarding and fun for all involved. The students also learn about the history of the Maypole Dance. “I think the Maypole Dance signifies the start of spring and the kids are proud to carry on the tradition,” said Lower School second grade teacher and annual conductor of the Maypole Dance Susan Ferguson.

The Maypole Dance is not the only traditional event held at PDS in the spring. Blue and White Day, held in May, is an annual field day and was started by former physical education teacher Kim Bedesem in the early 1980’s. Each member of the PDS community, teachers and students alike, is placed on either the Blue or White team, representing our school colors. On the morning of Blue and White Day, everyone receives a student-designed t-shirt which always includes the name “Kim” in honor of the day’s founder. In the morning, students from different grades and teams, along with some faculty members, compete in the “Big Race,” as students watch from the hill in front of the tennis courts and support their respective teams. This is easily the most anticipated event of the day. Tug-of-wars, potato sack races, and games including capture the flag ensue. Middle School students are partnered up with Lower School students throughout the events. For Upper School students, the day lasts for an hour before normal schedules and work resume. The bonding and teamwork, which are especially shown in the younger grades, are two important parts of this beloved day.

Perhaps the tradition that best reflects Princeton Day School’s values is the Honor Code. The Honor Code states that PDS students should “uphold personal and academic integrity, respect [themselves] and others, act responsibly and lead by example, be honest in [their] own work, embrace the values expressed in this code.” The mission of these core values is to maintain respect, integrity, and compassion amongst the students of PDS and through doing this, build the community. The Honor Code truly sets PDS and its student body apart. The standard that it holds students to allows for a trusting and successful community to be created.

In addition to these current traditions, there are many events that PDS no longer incorporates into its yearly schedule. In the past, activities included a pie-eating contest and a Sophomore and Junior canoeing trip, among others. Although these traditions may be missed by some, we should not dwell on the loss. We should celebrate and cherish the great traditions that still occur. We should be happy to dress up with our class, watch eight year olds perform, and compete against each other. This is what Princeton Day School traditions are all about, coming together as a community instead of being separated by class or age and creating a distinct, close-knit group of students and faculty, prepared to support each other in everything from homework to costume contests.

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