Boarders Have Holiday Traditions, Too


As we all know, holidays are a time for families. But what about the Hockaday boarders? How do they celebrate this special time?

It turns out that the Residence Department has special traditions of their own. Every year in December, boarders gather for the Senior Ornament Ceremony. The Ceremony is a celebration of Christmas as well as a special goodbye to the boarding senior class. Each junior boarder picks a senior to honor and say farewell to, reads aloud a message to them in front of the rest of the boarding community, and then presents them with a handmade Christmas tree ornament. It is a time of both tears and laughter for many, as the junior boarders say their last Happy Holidays to seniors who have become not only close friends but a second family as well.

This year, because it is the Residence Department’s centennial year, some changes were made. Instead of each junior making an ornament for their senior, the boarding department ordered custom made ornaments. Additionally, Director of Residence Life and Global Outreach Meshea Matthews added a new system in which the seniors will receive their ornaments five years after their graduation, when they come back to boarding for a reunion.

“We thought it would be cool to share the ornaments,” Matthews said. “So [boarders] could take those home and their kids could see, ‘this hung on the Hockaday tree.’”

Another modification this year was a small surprise planned by the House Council, headed by House Council President Sarah Chan. Chan, now a senior in her fifth year as a boarder, organized a short concert for the Residence Department. Musically-inclined boarders played Christmas songs together on instruments like the flute, the cello, and the violin.

Junior Aleena Dewji presented to senior Sofi Mira, and while she enjoyed the added festivities, she especially enjoyed the old tradition of giving the speeches.

“I love how personal it is,” Dewji said. “I think it’s important for us to have an Ornament Ceremony to recognize how far we have all come in residence.”

Chan agrees that the Ceremony is important for the boarding community.

“It brings everyone together,” Chan said. “It’s a bonding experience.”