Saint Michael’s Events and Traditions
Better than any school in the area, Saint Michael’s Episcopal School has remembered how to mark the cycles of the year with pageantry and fun. Many people are unused to schools that still celebrate May Day, or have never experienced a school small enough for all ages to attend a Thanksgiving Pageant. While they perform, the students learn the poise and verve that are hallmarks of our students. Check this year’s school calendar or weekly Nuntius for dates of these unique celebrations so you can see them for yourself!
Houses at Saint Michael’s
As in British “public schools” like Eaton and Harrow, we have divided our Junior K through Grade 8 families into Houses for the purposes of further fostering friendship across ages and grades, simplifying the organization of potlucks and fundraisers, and just plain fun competition in “being good” to earn House points for our families and friends. We wear our House shirts on Fridays and at competitions like Hike for Saint Mike. The Houses are:
MICHAEL HOUSE (purple), made up of the Faculty, and of which Board Members and local Episcopal clergy are honorary members, named for the Glorious Archangel Michael, He Who is Like God. His symbols are the sword and the scales of justice.
GABRIEL HOUSE (blue), named in honor of the Archangel who told Mary she would have a son. His symbol is a trumpet or a lily.
PHANUEL HOUSE (yellow), named in honor of the Archangel who consecrates and preserves. His symbol is the censer.
RAPHAEL HOUSE (red), named in honor of the Archangel who fed and healed the family of Tobit. His symbol is a fish.
Michaelmas Celebration (On or about September 29)
How fitting that we start the year with an all-school extravaganza commemorating our patron saint, the Archangel Michael, full of drama and suspense, peppered with wonderful angel hymns, and winding up with
. . . a surprise! As the pageant opens, we learn that Michael’s name means “Who is like God?” and that it is flung out as a challenge to those who seek to “put themselves before God.” We often combine this celebration with a barbecue feast. Tickets will be available for a great “al fresco under the spreading oak trees” meal, celebrating as well the beginning of Episcopal Schools Week with the community! Please plan on coming and bring friends, providing a wonderful opportunity for us to show off our students and campus.
Hike/Trike for St. Mike
An important fundraiser of the fall, this ingenious scheme harnesses the incredibly wiggly energy of the entire student body and puts it to work running or triking in circles for pledge $$$s per lap from friends and relatives near and far.
In the fall, the school as a whole, students/parents, teachers, the Board of Trustees and local businesses work together to sponsor a dinner/event to help raise operating and scholarship funds for the school. The 2015 event will be combined with the Advent Tea
which will include a silent and live auction.
Costumes and booths for all ages and the amazing Haunted House make for big fun, especially when your Upper School Buddy holds your hand in the scary parts. There’s a parade of costumes and goodies galore!
All Saints’ Day
A somber and beautiful Chapel celebration: all the students put on Full Dress to commemorate not only the Cloud of Witness, the Saints, but also our own beloved dead. First names of departed grandparents and other loved ones are collected during the previous week as we recall those who have gone before us into the Church Triumphant.
St. Cecilia’s Day
Around November 22nd generally there is a reading of Dryden’s “Ode to St. Cecilia” in Chapel. As patron saint of music, she also sometimes inspires a brief concert of talented students, so be forewarned!
“Over the river and through the woods, to Grandfather’s house we go . . . .” we carol at the close of this perfect pageant, presented usually by Junior Kindergarten, Kindergarten and Grade I students. The sharing of unique and touching thankfulness from each student’s personal store of joy makes the Thanksgiving celebration complete as we enjoy Pilgrim Popcorn.
Advent Tea, St. Nick, Class Projects, Auction, International Party, Chapel Specials
The approach of Christmas makes our celebration-happy campus full of anticipation. Every language taught on campus, living and dead, contributes to songs, skits and tableaux in honor of the season. Each homeroom prepares holiday goodies from a chosen country, creating a scrumptious spread on wonderfully-decorated tables. The highly prized class projects are auctioned off live in a lively competition. Additionally, on the closest day to December 6 occurs the traditional reading of Ogden Nash’s “The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus.” There may also be a Chapel performance of “Tres Filiae,” a cheerful, doggerel-verse English version of an old St. Nicholas legend, generally performed by teachers, to the delight of the students. The 2015 Advent Tea
will include a silent and live auction.
It DEFINITELY is not Christmas Holidays until we’ve all sung “Christians All” at the close of the Star of Bethlehem pageant. What a wonderful chance to see serious young folks presenting the Christmas Story in the most poetic of terms, with a lovely musical accompaniment!
Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta
The Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta
ritual is another group-building pivot of Saint Michael’s life, involving every student in Middle and Upper School. Many lessons of harmonizing, blocking, memorizing lines, sewing costumes, building sets and honing characters comes to rewarding fruition for the Gala Opening Night and public performances.
The Student Council sometimes organizes a carnation sale to bring delight to the hearts of friends and teachers. For the Upper School, there is generally a dance. In Chapel, one may well hear a reading of the story of St. Valentine.
Founders Day and Spring Celebration
Stone Soup Supper
The Founders Day and Spring Celebration
is a day when we bless the school gardens and release hundreds of newly emerged butterflies in honor, celebration or in memory of loved ones. April 17, 1972 was the day the school’s Charter was signed, and classes started the following fall. We celebrate and honor volunteers with a huge cake, sing the school song, and students longest enrolled slice up and hand out birthday cake to all comers, littlest first.
How do you celebrate good parent-teacher fellowship during Lent? With soup and simple accompaniments, of course! This get-together, in February or March, has been the occasion for celebrating what we love about Saint Michael’s, planning for its future, and generally rallying ‘round.
House Field Day
To encourage healthy competition among Gabriel, Phanuel and Raphael Houses, the spring field day features races, tug-o-war, Capture The Flag and other friendly contests. Colorful House T-shirts are worn to distinguish the contestants. During the remainder of the year merit-based house points may be earned for “good deeds and hard work.”
May Day & Grandparents’ Day
Lovers of traditional May Day celebrations should NOT miss this one-dressing up in flowery or festive garb, singing madrigals, re-enactment of a daring rescue of the Fool by Robin Hood and his Merry Men, crowning the May Queen. There is dancing on the green, including the Maypole and the Sword Dance. At some point in the proceedings, the Master of the Revels sees fit to include the performance of “The Comical Tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe,” extracted from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. On the morning of May Day, special grown-ups or grandparents are encouraged to come to school, have breakfast, and spend the school day with grandchildren or a favorite child.
Last Update: July 21, 2016