PDS Heads into Winter Break with Inclusive Celebrations
PDS Heads into Winter Break with Inclusive Celebrations

Students across 14 grades at Princeton Day School participated in a number of gatherings and performances leading up to winter break, and each had a common theme: recognizing seasonal traditions of diverse cultures, many focused on celebrations of light, special music and messages of peace and love.

The Lower School enchanted audiences on Thursday and Friday morning with a fresh musical interpretation of their traditional round-the-world celebration, complete with costumes and student speakers who highlighted many religious and cultural observances. Lower School strings players started the program (on Friday, without Dr. R as he was performing at the White House!), and each grade performed a choral piece, with Julia Beckmann conducting and Ryan Brechmacher on piano. Lower School Head Dr. Sandy Wang echoed the inclusive theme in her concert introduction: "This is a magical time for us here. It seems fitting that the Winter Solstice occurs on our first day of Winter Break, Saturday, December 21st. And if you've taken a stroll through the hallways and classrooms of the Lower School in the past few weeks, you will have seen hints of winter and introductions to the many holidays that are celebrated during this joyous season. Family. Grace. Love. Generosity. Reflection. Possibility. Those are the words that I hope will symbolize the upcoming days that we call Winter Break. I hope that you will take some time with your children to reflect on a year well spent, learning and laughing and questioning and even struggling. And look forward to a year of more opportunities to learn and laugh and question and struggle."

The Middle School Focus Assembly included an interactive celebration of light, with electric candles on each seat in the crowded theater. As Middle School Head and Assistant Head of School for Academic Life Renée Price observed, "inside a dimly lit McAneny Theater, we took part in the Festival of Lights. Students presented information about the holidays Diwali, Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Winter Solstice, Milad un Nabi, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year and Christmas. After each holiday's description, audience members were invited to hold up a small tea light if they celebrate that particular holiday. Noticing our similarities and differences, we then had a conversation about the ways we can make Middle School a place where we can let everyone feel most welcome to let their light shine bright every day." Middle School also took part in Thursday's Big Sing, a PDS tradition where Lower School and Middle School join together to sing festive songs from various traditions.

Upper School students in band and orchestra treated us to some fabulous musical selections last week at the Instrumental Music Winter Concert. Conducted by the inimitable Channing McCullough, the US Band renditions of Freddie Hubbard's "Povo", "Popular" from Wicked, Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" and Joe Henderson's "Recorda Me" had everyone moving to the music, while several soloists -- Conner Lee, Jonah Soos, Kyra Douglass, Charlotte Haggerty, Ava Fong, Joshua Rafferty, Ben Maschler and Tharun Potluri -- wowed the crowd. The US Orchestra, directed by Tomasz Rzeczycki, opened with Don Quixote's "The Impossible Dream", then entertained kids and adults alike with a dramatic rendition of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf", narrated by Sophia Glasgold, Harrison Fehn and Joe Lippman.

Hanukkah lunch, Peer Group leaders decorating gingerbread cookies with the Lower School, Middle School concert highlights for students and staff, the whole Upper School belting out seasonal tunes at their Friday afternoon Sing-along, and the fabulous conga line featuring Flik staff dancing to "Feliz Navidad" led by Coach Jill Thomas are only a few of the many cherished festivities the PDS community has enjoyed in recent days. And when school resumes in January, don't miss the MS Strings concert, MS Band Concert and the MS/US Choral Concert. Check the calendar for details!

Warm winter wishes to all!

Photos, above: Middle School celebration of light in theater; Lower School Concert singers; Middle School with Lower School at the Big Sing with Jack Madani; Upper School band performing at the winter concert; and a glimpse of conga line fun! PDS Flickr photo albums of some of the events featuring Lower, Middle and Upper School students can be viewed here:

Lower School Winter Concert

The Big Sing

Upper School Winter Instrumental Music Winter Concert