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Lower School students walked expectantly into the Wynne-Darden Stadium on Wednesday morning, dressed in their favorite “comfy clothes" and with some sporting Santa hats and antlers.

Since the pandemic began, the Lower School has not held a chapel with the entire student body and faculty gathered together, and the excitement for the event (and the coming holidays too) was evident. 

“It's the first time we've been together in a long time," said Lower School Director Michelle Alexander with combined awe and excitement, as she kicked off a chapel dedicated to a suitable theme--celebration.

She noted that celebration is not always loud and boisterous; it can be a time to pause and think. She asked the students to close their eyes and think about the start of the school year, compared to “where you are now." As the students kept their eyes closed, she asked a series of questions:

  • In this year, did you learn something new?
  • Did you meet a new friend?
  • Did you find success at something that was hard at fist?
  • Did a teacher smile and encourage you?

After each question, she told the students: “Nod your head. That's a reason to celebrate."

The meditation gave way to increasingly ebullient celebration. Mrs. Alexander, who loves to write poetry, read a rhyming poem for the occasion, “Time to Celebrate," then led the students in a three-part cheer with dance moves. Through the stands, hands were clapping, feet were stomping and turning, and the celebration was on.

From the loudspeaker, Music Teacher Becky Peterson led students and faculty in two holiday songs, as the dancing and swinging continued. 

Headmaster Dennis Manning closed the Chapel on an uplifting note, as he shared his wife's favorite quote, one that she keeps on her desk. It is from famous American poet and novelist Maya Angelou: “People will forget what your said. People will forget what you did. But they'll never forget how you made them feel."

He told the students that they make others, including their own headmaster, feel celebratory: “You've helped people feel good, and you have created the feeling of togetherness. Thank you. I celebrate you as I send you off into a New Year."

Lower School students were all smiles during outdoor Chapel on December 15, 2021.

Lower School students were all smiles during outdoor Chapel on December 15, 2021.

Lower School Director Michelle Alexander leads students in celebration during Chapel on December 15, 2021.

Lower School Director Michelle Alexander leads students in celebration during Chapel on December 15, 2021.

Students dressed in their favorite holiday outfits.

Students dressed in their favorite holiday outfits.

Dancing was part of the Chapel.

Dancing was part of the Chapel.

Teachers joined in the fun.

Teachers joined in the fun.

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