For the young women of Collegiate, the school year was punctuated by a number of long-standing traditions.
At the beginning of the school year, new students were placed into groups based on the school colors. “Green” and “Gold” teams comprised of students of all grade levels competed throughout the year to show the most school spirit for bragging rights and end of session trophies.
The new school year also saw the pairing of seniors with “Flower Girls” selected from the sophomore or junior classes. The tradition, which began with the class of 1923, worked to create stronger bonds between students.
In December, in the days before winter break, Collegiate students prepared for two of the school’s biggest annual events – Pageant and Brunch. Christmas-themed productions were a centerpiece of holiday celebrations at Collegiate almost from the beginning. The individual class productions of the 1920s and 30s became the all-school staging of the nativity story in 1940.
Every Collegiate student participated in the annual Christmas Pageant with the most prominent roles going to members of the senior class and no role was more important than that of Madonna. In 1958, senior Connie Kennon was selected by her Upper School peers to play the coveted role.
The secular counterpart to Collegiate’s nativity pageant, Brunch was first organized by the school’s Health Council in 1944 to emphasize the value of eating a healthy breakfast. By 1958, it had become an elaborate and themed affair directed by the junior class and featured an appearance by Santa and his helpers.
As the end of the school year approached, Collegiate students turned their attention to a trio of traditional annual events.
Student theatrical performances are a longstanding feature of the school year, culminating for Town School seniors in an annual play. An ambitious undertaking that senior girls participated in on nearly every level including adapting works, playing all roles (both male and female), and creating sets and costumes.
The play staged by the Class of 1959 was “Our Hearts Were Young and Gay” a three-act comedy by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough dramatizing their exploits as actresses touring Europe. It played for one night only, February 27th, in the auditorium of the nearby Mary Mumford School.
Collegiate’s May Day celebration began at the Town School in 1934 and remained an annual tradition until 1987 – long after such celebrations had fallen out of favor – when the final festival was held at the Mooreland Road campus.
May Day 1959 was held on May 5th at its longstanding site at Sauer’s Gardens. The second to last May Day was a last hurrah of sorts for the Town School girls, and the last before attention shifted west to the combined bucolic campus emerging on River and Mooreland Roads.
Perhaps the biggest event of the year, for seniors at least, was the commencement ceremony at the end of the school year. For many seniors graduation day marked the end of an educational period spent entirely at the Town School on Monument Avenue – a lifetime spent among well-known teachers and peers, and a familiar set of routines and traditions. For many, attending the Collegiate School for Girls on Monument Avenue was a formative experience that left a long-lasting impression and fostered lifelong friendships.