Deck the Halls of Andover

A sea of twinkling white lights adorn buildings and snow-covered bushes. Small flakes of white begin to flutter gracefully from the sky as students battle in snowball fights on their way back to their dorms. The month of December is always associated with holiday cheer, especially at Andover. Teachers pass out candy canes, day students make cookies for boarders, presents are exchanged, and school-wide concerts, readings, dances, and services keep spirits high amidst the fast approach to finals week. In an ode to the last lingering sparkles of the holidays, Living Arts presents a retrospective look at Andover’s winter celebrations. On Saturday night, December 3rd, the Kwanzaa celebration featured incredible performances by our school organist Patrick Kabanda, actors, and PA’s own Gospel Choir. An African American celebration of culture, family, thanksgiving and community, Kwanzaa takes place between December 26th and January 1st. This holiday focuses on the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. Seven candles represent the principles: unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperation, purpose, creativity, and faith. During the dynamic and fun Andover celebration, a speaker discussed each principle and members of the community lit each candle. On Sunday, December 4th, Andover’s annual “Lessons and Carols” service graced Cochran Chapel. The event mainly featured the Andover Chorus. The Hand Bell Choir and Fidelio Society also performed. More conventional and solemn than the Kwanzaa celebration, many of the performances during the service were very powerful and emotional. Lightening the mood, the Yorkies, Andover’s all male acappella group, waited outside of the chapel and sang upbeat Christmas carols after the service. The group also spent their study breaks during finals week serenading girls dorms with well-known Christmas songs, jazzing the old standards up with their own renditions. A typical night of studying for finals met a pleasant pause when the faint sounds of caroling echoed through the hallways. The Yorkies brought holiday cheer when it was needed the most and walked all over campus in the freezing cold to lift students’ spirits in time for the holidays. They also recorded a CD, entitled “A Very Yorkie Christmas.” The Snowfall Dance saw fake snow, shiny blue and white streamers and styrofoam snowmen along the frost-lined Ryley windowsills. This last dance of the calendar year saw a great turnout among students. Beyond the planned school-wide activities, there were also a number of individual festivities that added to the holiday spirit at Andover. Many dorms participated in holiday activities. Secret Santas and gingerbread-making passed the time between finals. Some dorms baked and passed out cookies shaped and decorated as wreaths and candy canes while others decorated the outside of their dorm with strings of holiday lights. Either way, their effort did not pass unnoticed. Heading back to their dorms at night, twinkling lights and holiday treats welcomed students and helped them keep them on task during the last few study sessions. The first big snowstorm of winter came around during finals week. Although it made transportation tough, students could not help but get wrapped up into the holiday spirit with the campus strung with colorful lights and covered in a frosty white layer of snow. Trudging through the snow with boots and jackets, it truly felt like the holidays. Although the last weeks of fall term ended long before the actual winter holidays, the different festivities on campus helped bring the mood of the season to everyone.