West Quad North Kicks Off Cluster Dinner Series With Frozen-Themed Event

As part of a series of Cluster dinners, West Quad North (WQN) hosted a special Frozen-themed dinner in Paresky Commons. During the gathering on January 25, Paresky Commons offered a menu that celebrated the movie, as well as Frozen karaoke set up in Lower Right.

Kit Leckerling, Dean of West Quad North, expanded on the cluster dinner as the revival of a valuable tradition from before the Covid-19 pandemic. He noted the dinner’s importance as a model for appreciation towards the dinners themselves and the Paresky Commons staff.

“Cluster dinners are a tradition that the Deans’ team is excited to bring back after a pandemic-related hiatus… Ms. Murata,[ Assistant Dean of Students and Residential Life], has led us in this project, setting up the dates with the Commons team and sharing examples of cluster dinners that she planned when she was Dean of Pine Knoll. I hope that our cluster dinner will get everyone excited to see what the other clusters plan for their dinners, and that people will turn out for these dinners and express their gratitude to the Commons team for putting in the extra effort to make them happen,” said Leckerling.

WQN Cluster Co-President Louis Leone ’24 explained the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on cluster dinners in the past. As the first cluster to host a dinner in multiple years, the Co-Presidents were presented with numerous challenges throughout their planning, ranging from logistical problems to health concerns from school-wide sickness.

“It was kind of like flashing a light in the dark, but the Cluster Deans were very supportive and helped us a lot [with] planning. Sometimes you plan everything, but things go sideways at the last second, which is what happened when the classes got canceled and everyone was encouraged to go home. We planned a big event for many people, and then less than half the school is here,” said Leone.

Leone continued by explaining the history of cluster dinner themes, as well as how it impacted the Co-Presidents’ selection of the theme. Additionally, he added that Frozen was something that fit the current season well, allowing for more convenient decoration.

“What was in our minds is that we were thinking of winter, and historically, some of the topics have been centered around movies and animation, so like in 2012 I think they did a Harry Potter theme. As we were keeping all that in mind, Frozen emerged as a pretty good theme that would fit into the season as well. So we went with it, and also because Frozen is so popular, there’s definitely been other events based off of it so it was also easier for us to order things online from Amazon,” said Leone.

Ashley Park ’24, Cluster Co-President of WQN, shared lessons she learned from the experience that could be used for future cluster dinners. Park emphasized that there should be sufficient assistance for these events, or else preparation becomes far more difficult than expected.

“Hopefully we can give [other clusters] a lot more tips and suggestions along the way because there were definitely a lot of things that we weren’t expecting to happen… Definitely getting a lot more hands on deck for a really big event like this. I underestimated how big Commons was, so we were in Commons for three hours preparing and stayed afterward to help clean up,” said Park.

As the influenza virus sent more people home and campus grew quieter, the cluster dinner served as a beacon of joy despite the low spirits. Dean Leckerling expressed how glad he was to know that the dinner fulfilled its purpose of bringing joy to the campus.

“While it was unfortunate that many students missed the WQN dinner, I heard from many students and adults that they really appreciated having a special event on a night when campus felt so empty for those who remained. It lifted our spirits, which is the purpose of the cluster dinners and Snooze-the-Blues events in general: we are trying to bring some joy and spontaneous fun to a time of year that can be challenging,” said Leckerling.

With the success of the cluster dinner, many students have expressed their enjoyment of the Frozen theme and the festivities. Jonathan Oh ’27 stated that the theme and the activities made the dinner entertaining. He highlighted how the flu impacted his experience of the dinner and how he hopes for better conditions in the time of the next cluster dinner.

“The Frozen theme was really interesting. The social media posts from WQN’s Instagram were a great way to ramp up excitement, and the event itself was really enjoyable. I liked the food, the decorations, and the karaoke especially. I wish that the flu hadn’t been going around, or there would have been even more people and even more [enjoyment],” said Oh.