Does an innovative, 21st century school like The Branch School care about traditions? Well yes, especially when kids look forward to Splash Day every year! The Branch is a place for children, and children love to look forward to enriching activities that are fun and inspiring. Sometimes the activities are all-school, and some are reserved for the older students who serve as role models and inspire the younger kids to reach those milestones along the way of their school days.
What does a tradition mean? Webster’s has it as “an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior.” All of The Branch School traditions have been handed down from one generation of students to the next, and form an integral part of the school year. They become established because children enjoy the activities and look forward to them. Children do many things in any given week, from their learning in the course of a day, to after school activities, and recreational “down time” such as video games and watching movies, but traditions have a special place in the history of their school careers. They get to look forward, and back.
Here are some examples of how The Branch Bears do traditions, either all-school or by division:
- Each class shows school spirit and class spirit by performing a class cheer they created at the first school assembly.
- Halloween Costume parade!
- Fall Carnival is a classic, with a plethora of fun events for every age. Imagine racing little model cars on a big mini-track built for them, or climbing a rock wall.
- Everyone participates in the fall 1K and 5K fun run at a local park.
- The middle school spends three days at an “outdoor school” which includes lots of bonding and activities like the high ropes, kayaking, and fishing.
- Primary school hosts a multi-cultural feast near Thanksgiving, while Primary and Lower school put on a fabulously entertaining Christmas/Holiday program which showcases their diversity. Grandparents are invited to share in this touching family time for the holidays, while Middle School grandparents have a special picnic lunch in the spring when the Middle School puts on their annual theater production.
- A new all-school “tradition” has begun with Bear Dens, four groups of students and staff across the grade levels, who meet for lunch once a month and do fun activities together.
And then there’s Splash Day. The anticipation to put on the bathing suits and run through all kinds of mini-water park contraptions, from slides to a “car wash,” is a huge deal to our primary and lower school. This is also the last day of school with the promise of an exciting summer vacation with its many new opportunities to explore as near as home and as far as the world’s many exciting attractions. Going to grandma’s each Thanksgiving holiday, for example, is an anticipated tradition, unlike trips which are a one-time occurrence. Just like grandma's house, how wonderful, in such a busy world, that children can breathe easy that their beloved Splash Day, and their other traditions, will continue to form happy, fond memories for years to come.
Emily Smith, Head of School, graduate of Smith College and M.A., University of Connecticut School of Education.