Golden Moment from Holiday Assemblies
One of students’ favorite highlights of Hopkins is the annual Holiday Assembly, which includes an array of presentations from a cappella groups and choruses to instrumental ensembles, and, most intriguingly, the current senior class. Each year, minutes before being released into the annual winter vacation, the entire school joins together to sing the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Each grade is assigned a specific stanza to sing; however, the most memorable moments come with “Five Golden Rings.” Each time it comes time for the Hopkins community to sing these three special words, the senior class performs some type of thrilling sketch or mini-performance.
This tradition was first brought to Hopkins by headmaster Michael Theobald in the 1980s. Assistant Head of School John Roberts said, “Since then, it has evolved into performance art. It’s become a huge event with so much anticipation and so much hype, one I would argue to be one of our most important annual traditions.”
In previous years, the assembly has brought with it an exciting assortment of displays of senior accomplishments. From musical concerts to athletic demonstrations, the stanzas are filled with opportunities for the senior class to celebrate its gifted members. Allison Chun ’17 said, “It’s awesome to see seniors show off their individual talents.”
The show is frequently accompanied by exaggerated spectacles that highlight particular skill sets. For example, Corey Chang ’14, a recognized piano prodigy, was introduced to the assembly by a passionate speech delivered by Music Teacher Robert Smith, and then led in by a group of fellow classmates serving as his bodyguards. Will Hartog ’17 said, “Corey Chang’s piano performance was the most emotionally poignant Five Golden Rings performance ever. The intensity of the moment could only be perceived by spectators.”
In addition, academic scholars usually broadcast some type of sensational scene displaying their prodigious skill and wit. For instance, Angus MacMullen ’14 created a digital musical instrument, which was accompanied by a playful dance routine. Eric Kong ’16 said, “My all-time favorite moment was when Angus MacMullen played his hand-made machine in front of the whole school.”
Alex Siegenfeld ’11, a gold medal winner at the International Chemical Olympiad, crafted five golden rings from a chemical solution, using his extensive knowledge of chemical properties for the ultimate chanting of the song, a breathtaking achievement.
However, the Five Golden Rings is not only a time to honor the senior class, but also to satirize it. Nick Schoelkopf ’18 described an example: “I remember a couple of years ago, a senior imitated the creature Gollum, from The Lord of the Rings, and hissed the word ‘Precious’ to Student Council President Precious Musa ’14. I am a big fan of The Lord of the Rings, so I really enjoyed this moment.”
In addition, seniors often elect to take advantage of the ample opportunities to use campus property in their sketches. For example, in past years, the campus golf carts have made appearances as Santa’s sleigh, escape carts, and Batman’s Batmobile: “Mr. Cronin’s appearance as Batman on the golf cart was really funny and definitely the highlight of my Hopkins career,” said Lynn Liu ’16.
Often, seniors choose to incorporate the latest trends from popular culture into their exhibitions. In 2012, amidst the worldwide frenzy surrounding the song “Gangnam Style,” Tyler Roth ’13, equipped with a black tuxedo and sunglasses, executed a highly accurate rendition of the dance. Rica Generoso ’16 said, “Tyler’s dance moves were very inspiring. It was great to watch because he not only looked like he knew what he was doing, but he also looked fearless. It was hilarious!”
Most recently, the graduating class of 2015 chose to mimic the beloved teenage classic from the 2000’s: Mean Girls. Four seniors performed a rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock” as shown in the movie. Donasia Grey ’16 remarked, “I loved this moment because not only did it depict a scene from a classic American film, but it was also joined by the entire senior class at the end. That was just beautiful, and showed how close they were as a class, and it gave them an opportunity to just have a blast together.”
In recent years, the assembly has culminated in a special gathering: the entire senior class swarms the center of the gym for the last stanza of The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Tiffany Buu ’17 commented, “I love feeling the sense of unity when the school comes together to celebrate the holidays.”
However, for some, it is not the performances that are the most exciting, but the power of the song, itself. Helena Lyng-Olsen ’18 said, “For me, my favorite part of the Five Golden Rings is singing the song as a school. It’s a cool feeling to hear everyone sing the same thing at the same time.”
Hartog agreed, “I always wish there were more verses of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ so that we could keep singing it.”
From anxiously awaiting the opening of the doors to the final assembly of that year to participating in the whispered rumors of potential stars in this theatrical act, students have ample reasons to be excited for the last day before Winter Break. There is no doubt that the Class of 2016 will produce a sensational act designed to unify the school again this year.