A painting depicting people dressed in extravagant costumes and dancing together.

Costumes and Customs

It is possible that the most important thing I did today is dress up like a panda. Granted, I taught a Logic class on equivocation and the use of proper definitions, a Physics class on using vector addition to calculate displacement, and led a Great Books discussion on Crime and Punishment wherein we looked seriously at the danger of bad ideas.

But even so, when sitting on my porch twenty years from now, gazing through the lens of history, the most important thing I did today just might be the panda outfit.

I accepted a new title this year. In addition to serving as the Head of St. Lucy House and an Instructor of Great Texts, I am now the Dean of Cocurriculars here at TSCS. This means that I am responsible for crafting events—retreats, field days, and the like—that foster the growth and flourishing of TSCS as a community and provide narrative shape to each individual student’s experience of their whole TSCS education. My panda outfit works directly towards these ends.

This week is Spirit Week at TSCS. During Spirit Week, students break from their normal uniforms and participate in a full week of dress-up and costume. This break from routine marks the week leading up to our Fall Field Day: a community-wide day of competition and jollity wherein our four Houses compete for glory and House points while getting wet, spinning around in circles, running relays, and participating in general merriment. The Spirit Week serves to get students on-board with the school and with one another, inviting them into a time of celebration wherein we commemorate being together as a school.

This sort of festival is essential to community development. It draws students out of their shells and asks them to participate in something bigger than themselves. In donning the day’s attire, they exercise their own creativity and contribute to the creative act of the school as a whole. When one’s dress is intentionally geared toward a group effort, it helps incorporate one’s self into the group, as well. The festival builds over the week, with Quiz Bowl on Wednesday and Field Day on Saturday, with each day of dress-up and merriment building up into the next.

This experience draws students into community.

In the immediate sense, it invites students to be together, to compete with one another, and to generally enjoy being around one another.

In the long term, this experience serves as part of the TSCS narrative. It is a tradition one can look back fondly upon, a mythos that calls him to remember and love his alma mater. Stories have power, especially when they’re our own. In participating in traditions, students throw themselves into the ebb and flow of the school year, marking out its days with hard work and with festivals. The school community isn’t just a place for labor and study. It is a place for fun! So cheers to my panda outfit. May my clothes, this week, grow ever crazier.

Featured Art – A Fête Galante style painting by Nicolas Lancret