As a school that is 106 years old, Roycemore has a number of traditions, and like so many things, during this pandemic, we have lost some of the opportunities to honor traditions that are special to us in order to keep our school community safe and healthy.  The annual Carnival that Upper School students host for younger ones thankfully returned this year, with a creative twist– it was held outside on the verandah.  The pumpkin carving event that our early childhood and lower school families enjoyed transitioned to an outdoor pumpkin decorating event along with a trunk-or-treat.  I heard from a number of families that told me they actually liked it better than what we did previously.  So who knows, maybe there will be a NEW tradition!
Our oldest tradition at Roycemore is Palio, fashioned on the contests from Sienna, Italy where various Contrada compete in contests to win the prized white Palio banner.  Our own version began in 1916 after two teachers visited Italy and came back to Roycemore to begin the Roycemore Palio.  Not far behind Palio in terms of long-standing traditions is Roycemore’s Wassail.  Pre-Covid, this would involve older students going to the classroom of their younger Griffin Buddy and bringing them to an all-school gathering.  There, they would participate in a service project such as tying blankets for Project Linus.  They’d sing holiday songs from around the world and from various faith traditions, and then enjoy sipping hot cocoa or cider and munching on cookies!  Seniors looked forward to dressing up as snowmen or holiday elves to lead the songs, and multi-age groups worked collaboratively on the blankets.  It is a cherished tradition!
Wassail before COVID-19
This Friday, we will once again celebrate Wassail, but it will be modified to respect the health and safety of our students.  Rather than a whole school gathering, students will gather by division, sing holiday songs from around the world, and participate in a culminating project as part of Blankets of Hope.  They will attach messages of love and kindness to blankets that will be delivered to homeless shelters.  Earlier in the week, students will also be participating in a Kindness Workshop.  They will gain empathy as they learn about the plight of homeless individuals.  They will then have the opportunity to write their notes to individuals experiencing homelessness.  Finally, they will be led in a guided meditation of loving-kindness.  We are so happy that one of the cherished Roycemore traditions involves compassion and empathy.  These are core values of Roycemore and so critical– especially in challenging times like today.  We are grateful for this wonderful community that is so giving, from the food drive to the lovely lunch the Roycemore Family Association provided to teachers and staff on Monday, to your gifts to Roycemore’s Annual Fund and Capital Campaign.  Some individuals have asked about helping fund the blankets, and several have stepped forward to help cover this cost.  If you are interested in participating, each blanket costs $7 and you can send cash or a check (made out to “cash” in an envelope labeled Blankets of Hope to the school’s main office.
Wishing everyone love, joy, and peace this holiday season– and always.
With gratitude,
Adrianne Finley Odell
Head of School