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28th Annual Under the Lights Ignites School Spirit

Friday, October 20, 2023—Red tinsel doorway curtains, fluffy red feather boas, dramatic red superhero capes, and red tutus can only mean one thing: Red Day—the annual culmination of Spirit Week and the yearly harbinger of Under the Lights—arrived on campus.

Faculty, staff, and especially students participated in the weeklong costume contest October 16–20. Western wear on Monday brought out cowboy hats and even cows, while Y2K on Tuesday played off styles from popular movies like Legally Blonde and Mean Girls and popular artists like Jennifer Lopez, Brittany Spears, and Avril Lavigne. Students Advocating School Spirit (SASS) developed the costume themes during lunchtime club meetings this fall. 

Wednesday was an especially memorable day as SASS capitalized on the summer box office success of “Barbenheimer”—a cultural phenomenon surrounding the simultaneous theatrical releases of Barbie and Oppenheimer. Barbies of all different professions were plentiful. Donning white lab coats and using colorful balloons to designate their classification as the isotopes uranium-235, krypton-92, and barium-141, the Science Department won an award for their portrayal of the fission reaction that powers nuclear power plants and the atomic bomb.

“Rhyme without reason” on Thursday allowed creativity and partnership to shine. Santa and Fanta, Darth Vader and cheese grater, both fulfilled the edict. However the History Department took the theme to new heights with nine faculty participating in a coordinating scheme: plague doctor, door knocker, Betty Crocker, shot blocker, backsplash caulker, library proctor, Jimmy Walker, punk rocker, and bird gawker. 

A special schedule on Friday brought the whole school together in the Brock-Wilson Gymnasium for a pep rally. Students sat with their classes and SASS led the assembly in traditional cheers like “Red Hot” and “Hey All You Winsor Fans.” Lower School course Drum, Strum, and More kicked off the show with the theme song to Mission Impossible and then each class performed a cheer and dance. For weeks, entire grades met during community time to conceptualize and practice for this moment. 

Class I wrote their own cheer and Class II broke into two teams for a dance off. Class III, inspired by Taylor Swift-mania for the Eras Tour rewrote lyrics such as, “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 29”—an apropos edit for the Class of 2029. Class V sampled songs from Beyoncé and ABBA while configuring their dance in the shape of a W.

Three grades leaned into the Barbie hype. “When I wake up, in my Winsor World,” sang Class IV, subtly changing the lyrics to Lizzo’s song “Pink,” while Class V used the tune of Ryan Gosling’s “I’m just Ken” and sang, “We’re Class VI, and we’re the best class to exist.” Class VII garnered audience participation when they charged into the crowd and performed a routine set to Dua Lipa’s “Dance the Night.”

However, it was the seniors, the Class of 2024, who stole the show with their “24 we're on tour, back again, back for more” stomp routine and dynamic choreography which, for the second year in a row, featured Dean Shannon Calamari-Kirwan. 

While the faculty judges—World Languages Faculty Ms. Hatcher, English Faculty Mr. Mudorch, Mathematics Faculty Mr. Wensink, and Mathematics Faculty Ms. Moran—deliberated, the Winsor Dance Team performed and SASS gave out certificates and candy prizes for winners of the weeklong costume contest.

The judges requested a drum roll and handed out Lower School superlatives for “cool choreography,” “teamwork,” “extremely energetic,” and “most fantastically creative,” which were met with enthusiasm. 

When the Upper School pep rally winner was announced, the seniors drowned out the announcement of their own win. The Class of 2024 held each other and jumped up and down in their excitement. It is their second consecutive win; the class of 2024 won as juniors and now as seniors.

To close out the pep rally, Upper School Illumina sang the national anthem and officially kicked off Under the Lights (UTL). The pep rally on Red Day served to get everyone excited for the homecoming games where mid, JV, and varsity teams across field hockey, soccer, and volleyball played 11 contests on campus. 

Hundreds of current Winsor families and alums flocked to the Winsor courtyard for UTL. The Winsor Parents’ Association made the atmosphere particularly festive with decorations and a spirit table stocked with red beads, boas, glow sticks and more for sports spectators to show their school spirit. The rain (mostly) held off while onlookers watched games and noshed on a cozy fall menu of build-your-own loaded nachos, hot dogs, and chili. For something sweet, a hot cocoa bar and donuts hit the spot.

On Sunday, October 22, Winsor crew took to the water with two boats racing in the 58th Head of the Charles Regatta. Read more about the race (coming soon).