A look inside Masters’ unique traditions

Lily Zuckerman, Features Editor

“Tradition! Tradition!” As once said in “Fiddler on The Roof.”

Masters is a place where its traditions are celebrated by the community. The creativity of our community sparked many unique traditions, some of which have stood the test of time, while others have faded away.  Others have evolved through time, but all of our traditions strengthen the unity of our community. 

Upper School Dean of Students Jeff Carnevale reflected on how this rich history makes the School as special as it is.  He said, “Every school has their own unique set of traditions that highlights who they are. I think Masters is who we are because of where we’ve been in the traditions we have. I don’t think that it can be replicated in the same way at another school.” He continued, “Our Halloween traditions highlightsthe quirkiness at this school and all its unique glory. As for Great Gig in the Sky, it highlights the arts in a different way than most schools. For all these traditions, it’s the way in which we gather that make them so special.” 

Like many other schools, Masters has traditions such as Pack the Den (a rallying of fans for a particular game) and senior privileges. However, Masters has certain traditions that are distinctive from many other high schools.

Here, Tower takes a look at some of these Masters-specific customs chronologically throughout the school year, recognizing how some have evolved, emerged or passed away. 

 

Founders’ Day

Although beginning in 2004, Founders Day honors the founding in 1877, according to Sujata Jaggi. Everyone in the community gathers in their respective team colors. Generally, this is a day where faculty awards are given, and the entire school body, from grounds keepers to faculty, from kitchen staff to administrators, all gather together to remember our founders.  Each grade and faculty participate in a tug-of-war between the two teams within their grade, and at the end of the day, scores are tallied. Students and faculty are assigned a team for their time at Masters; Delta is navy blue and Phi is red. Why red and blue? –when combined, they make purple, our school color.

Sophomore Rebecca Troy said, “I think it is an event that brings everyone of Masters together as a whole community. The friendly competition connects people from different grades together when they fight to win.” 

JOSH MARKOWITZ

 

Halloween

Likewise, Masters does not take Halloween lightly. Even a month before Halloween, the schools halls will be filled with spooky decorations. Every year, there is a Halloween video competition among the grades and departments in the Upper School, although it used to be Halloween skits back in the day. 

“I think the tradition of the Halloween videos is really special.  It allows for the entire class to come together and work collaboratively on a project,” said sophomore Juan Torres. 

Torres continued, “It’s something that brings our grade together as a whole because we have a responsibility to complete something for the entire community to see in the end.” 

Upper School English teacher and Masters alumna ‘12, Pilar Méndez Cruz, had a similar opinion on the Halloween customs at Masters. Méndez Cruz said that the video tradition was her favorite in high school and remains her favorite Masters tradition. 

Cruz said, “I have a bigger perspective on all the work that my teachers put in to keep these traditions alive and make it fun. It was always a funny moment to see my teachers weren’t the strict people who gave me detention, making fools of themselves.” She did note one key difference though. She said,“At least in my experience last year, there’s definitely more use of technology and filmmaking than there was when I was here. A lot was done on stage.” 

Alumna ‘01 and current Director of Alumnae Engagement, Sujata Jaggi has seen the Halloween rituals alter through her . She said, “Halloween has evolved through the years. When I was a student in the 1990’s, Halloween involved skits on stage and I really enjoyed how technology has made this tradition evolve, to videos.” 

JOSH MARKOWITZ

Morning Meeting

Currently, the Upper School gathers every other day for Morning Meeting.  Besides presentations, Morning Meeting includes Senior Speeches, Matters of Spirit and DOPA Days (formerly called Musical Mondays) –practices that many look forward to. 

RYAN GUAN

 

Senior Speeches                                                                                                                                    

Senior Stella Simonds, has been looking forward to her senior speech since freshman year. “I can still remember a lot of the seniors and what they spoke about when I was in ninth grade. It’s a special tradition that allows seniors to share their Masters experience. I’ve been planning the ideas for what I want to say since I was in ninth grade.” 

Simonds said, “It’s pretty unbelievable that I’m already a senior and I’m already going to be the one doing the senior speech, but I’m really excited to do mine.” She added, “I hope people remember mine and at least take some advice to heart, how I’ve taken from other people’s speeches.” 

Alumni Leo Psaros ‘17 echoed the sentiment. “I think it’s a unique tradition. When I tell most people outside of Masters that seniors have the opportunity to share [their thoughts] for five minutes with the community about their time at Masters, they are always envious. I believe it’s a nice gift from Masters to give every senior the special chance to share their story,” he said,  “Because Masters requires juniors to take public speaking, senior speeches are a great opportunity to take the skills you learned junior year and put it towards something you are passionate about.” 

DOPA Days

Once a month, students have a different type of morning meeting that they don’t see every other day: a DOPA Day. This is an opportunity for anyone, no matter the talent or experience to sign up and perform in front of the Upper School during Morning Meeting. 

Junior, Teddy Meyer enjoys performing and observing performances. He said, “opportunities to perform at other schools are hard to come by and DOPA day makes it very accessible and open. It also changes up the rhythm in listening to people speak for thirty-minutes or presenting.” 

JOSH MARKOWITZ

Senior Steps

Alumni Leo Psaros ‘17 attended Masters since fifth grade. Even after graduating from college and beginning a job, he still recounts a Masters tradition. Traditions come and go, the idea that the senior steps are forbidden until graduation is a discontinued tradition. “I went to Masters all eight years and I waited for the bus by the senior steps everyday. I was always told never to go on the senior steps,” Psaros said. He continued,  “It was a very surreal feeling. I walked down the steps for the first time, and it was my last year at this school; my time had actually come to an end.” 

MASTERPIECES

A-Z Board

As students go through the school year these days, they will often communicate to their peers via phone. Before technology was so accessible and everything was on our phones, Masters Hall held the A-Z board. 

Before cell phones and email we had a Board in Masters Hall called the A-Z Board and you could leave notes by the letter of someone’s last name. On game days captains would leave bags of candy for teammates, and faculty could leave notes for students.” said Jaggi. 

This tradition is an example of not just evolution but it actually faded away.

MASTERPIECES