Student Council Adapts Winter Holiday Traditions
As the holiday season approaches, in the midst of a pandemic, Hopkins continues to uphold its winter traditions.
This year, Student Council (StuCo) decided to organize a completely new fundraising plan for their annual Connecticut Food Bank Fundraiser (CFBF) in order to adjust to Covid-19-related regulations. In previous years, students raised money by fundraising outside of local businesses and attending events like the Haunted House, Yule Ball, the CanJam concert, Female Football, and StuCo waffle sales. StuCo President Ella Zuse ’21 notes that “a lot of our events relied on bringing lots of people together in close quarters, so I’ve tried to pivot to fundraisers that are contactless or can take place remotely.” On November 19, StuCo kicked off the CFBF with a Zoom presentation from Hopkins alums Will Collier ’16 and Ben Collier ’17. The brothers helped found the Farmlink Project, a nonprofit organization that acquires and distributes surplus food from farms to families in need as a response to the increased food insecurity caused by Covid-19. Zuse shares that this zoom call “was part of our plan to introduce more education about food insecurity this year.”
To continue spreading awareness, StuCo designed three lessons for adviser groups to complete over the course of the CFBF. Advisers led their advisees through the lessons, which included an introductory Kahoot game and Budget Activity, a customized Skribbl.io game focusing on terms related to food insecurity, and an empathy discussion along with the Choose My Plate activity.
Raising awareness and educating the Hopkins community about food insecurity is just one of the this year’s alternative CFBF activities. Maroon Key Faculty Adviser Anna Robinette says, “We brainstormed a few ideas together for events like the Columbus House Fundraiser that [Maroon Key Board] ran on campus earlier this fall–one being the mask tie-dying, another being a virtual Among Us tournament.” Although the tie-dyeing mask fundraiser was cancelled, Zuse mentions that StuCo planned “to host an Insomnia Cookie Fundraiser if we are back in school the two weeks before break to replace our normal Waffle Fundraiser.”
As an alternative to the canceled fundraisers, Junior Class President Albert Yang ’22 opened an online merchandise store. All proceeds went to the Connecticut Food Bank. Yang states that “all the designs are set up and ready to go,” and encouraged Hopkins students to visit the store since “every purchase will go to a truly great cause!” Yang ran into some issues in the process: “Finalizing all of the money-related concerns [was] the main obstacle, which the Hopkins Business office and others [helped] us to figure out certain specifics.”
StuCo members reflect on this year’s unique fundraising process. Zuse shares: “[Hopkins could not] have as intense of a fundraising season this winter, [however] our plan to continue supporting the CT Food Bank in January, hopefully, will allow us to design more fundraisers once we have a better idea of what is safe to do then.” Senior Class President Sophie Sonnenfeld shares a similar outlook: “I hope students will participate in our virtual and perhaps in-person activities and fundraisers in the future.”
Another long-held tradition at Hopkins is the Winter Holiday Assembly, the highlight of which has been the Five Golden Rings program. Traditionally, Five Golden Rings includes comedy skits and musical performances performed by members of the senior class. Zuse explains: “The seniors would plan these event months in advance and then rehearse all day Friday and perform during the end of the day in Assembly.
Sonnenfeld, who, as Senior Class President, is responsible for this event, says: “This year, Five Golden Rings will be in a video format as part of the virtual Winter Holiday Assembly. Sonnenfeld continues: “In September or October this year, the incredible Margaret Toft ’21 and I started planning to film Five Golden Rings as a movie... Margaret’s hilarious script includes some stellar senior performances, a few fabulous faculty cameos, and the angelic voices of Alexis Chang and Ranease Brown.”
Toft discovered opportunities and benefits from the new filmed format. Toft explains, “The Five Golden Rings I wrote follows the same model I have observed for my past three years at Hopkins: an over arching story line with comedy sketches sprinkled in the middle. Since we are not watching it live in the gym this year, Sophie and I decided that we would break away from the traditional style of following the 12 Days song throughout the show and instead make ours more like an episode of TV.” Toft ’21 describes the benefits of a virtual format: “We aren’t relying on audience participation or reaction, and I don’t have to take that into account when I am crafting the moments through editing. With movies, there’s the option to have quieter, more focused jokes that wouldn’t sell from the back row of the bleachers, and as the writer, I was excited to take advantage of that.”
The non - traditional film format also introduced new challenges. Zuse explains: “A lot of seniors have been looking forward to the Five Golden Rings skit since they started at Hopkins. There are some classic skits that are not taking place their year, and some seniors have come asking me if it would be possible to still make them happen. I’ve also gotten a lot of feedback from seniors about not being able to be involved in the planning or have a chance to show off their talents.” Based on this feed- back, Sonnenfeld and Toft were excited to figure out how to involve more of the senior class. “We hoped to include videos of seniors to mirror the feel of the flash mob dance and senior celebration at the end of Assembly that we cannot have this year do to Covid-19,” said Sonnenfeld.
Despite the unprecedented nature of this year’s Five Golden Rings, Sonnenfeld is confident that it will still spread holiday cheer. “It’s sad we won’t be able to gather the entire Hop community together and celebrate with the whole senior class before our winter break send-off, but I’m so excited to spread some winter and holiday joy with the Five Golden Rings movie!”