School Traditions Create Community
Rowland Hall is proud to be a community rich in traditions, many of which have been a part of our history for over 60 years.
All-School Convocation, begun in 2009, is celebrated on the Friday of the first week of school every year. Two of the students' favorite parts of All-School Convocation are the student body president's welcome address and the high fives given to first graders by the new senior class. Prior to 2009, each division held its own convocation ceremony.
The first recorded Middle School Class Trip took place in 1987. Today, each Middle School grade takes a weeklong fall trip to bond, explore, and learn.
The inaugural Ninth-Grade Class Trip took place in 1995. Each year the entire grade travels for a week to Camp Roger (east of Kamas, Utah) to learn about the geography and nature of our state, to participate in community service projects, and to get to know one another and their teachers at the beginning of the school year.
Since 2004, Rowland Hall Upper School students have come together in the Larimer Center to kick off the school-wide Fall Canned-Food Drive with a concert called Canapalooza. Proceeds benefit Crossroads Urban Center's Emergency Food Pantry. The concert lineup features an eclectic mix of student and teacher musicians. Throughout October, Rowland Hall students collect and contribute tons of food to support a local food pantry and the state's food bank. We have received official recognition from both the Utah Food Bank and Crossroad Urban Center honoring the contributions of our school community.
Every October since 2005, a beloved school family has presented the McCarthey Family Foundation's Annual Lecture Series—In Praise of Independent Journalism. The lecture is free, open to the public, and held on Rowland Hall's McCarthey Campus. Speakers have included Tom Brokaw, Helen Thomas, Ariana Huffington, Anderson Cooper, Ingrid Betancourt, Daniel Schorr, Chris Matthews, Madeleine Albright, David Axelrod, and Bob Costas.
The Lower School's Mask Parade is a treasured fall tradition. Every year our art teacher and students outdo themselves with glittering, gorgeous creations to show off on a Friday afternoon near Halloween. In addition to donning mixed-media masks, students carry handmade musical instruments.
The entire Upper School student body and faculty, with the support of 30 to 40 parents, participate in the Half Day Whole Heart service project in mid-October (the afternoon of the PSAT test). On this day, students, teachers, and parent volunteers blanket the community and work with over a dozen nonprofits. This half day of service was instituted in 2003.
First graders spend part of the fall and winter learning about the beauty and importance of the world's rainforests. To accompany their study, they have, for many years, held their annual First Grade Penny Drive to raise money to purchase a section of the rainforest to be preserved.
The Winged Lion Awards, (formerly called Goode Knight Awards) a Middle School tradition for well over 30 years, is given to a student in each grade level (sixth through eighth) each month. The distinction honors students' positive impact on their peers and on the community. These students are described as hard workers, good team players, considerate of others, friendly, respectful, and honest, among many other wonderful characteristics. Both students and faculty nominate award-winners.
The annual Home and School Book Fair is an event our whole community looks forward to each fall (prior to and during fall parent/teacher conference days). The Lower School librarian and Home and School volunteers have organized this three-day event for over twenty years, and proceeds from book sales benefit the school's libraries. The school's partnership with Barnes and Noble guarantees that this is a successful fundraiser at which our children and parents find a variety of books and gifts in time for the holidays.
In early spring, every other year, for over three decades, the Rowland Hall community has gathered together for its Auction, an elegant evening that features live and silent auctions to raise funds for the school as a whole or for a specific school project designated by the board of trustees. An auction executive committee, made up of parents, voluntarily gives enormous amounts of time (starting a year ahead of the event) and talent to ensure that the event is a roaring success. Rowland Hall's auction is one of the premier events in Salt Lake City and helped set the standard for successful nonprofit auctions throughout the state.
The School Musical is cast with Middle School and Upper School students and brings our whole community together. Each spring we look forward to enjoying the talents of our students in a variety of musical theater productions, from The Sound of Music to Oliver.
Grandparents Day is celebrated the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Postcard invitations are sent to all and we ask those planning to attend to RSVP. We enjoy meeting the grandparents who come from nearby and far away to join us for a short program, tours and classroom visits. Grandparents Day replaced Special Friends Day, which had been an annual event at the school for many years.
All families on the McCarthey Campus are invited to participate in an evening of Family Caroling, celebrated in St. Margaret's Chapel. This school tradition dates well back to Rowland Hall boarding school days and continues to be a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season.
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas was first performed, to the delight of Upper School students, in the 1980s by beloved former theater and English teacher, the late Tony Larimer. In 2010, perhaps a new tradition was born when the Lower School music students and their teacher Cindy Hall presented their version of the Dr. Seuss classic to the Lincoln Street assembly.
For as long as our school has existed, our students have presented Holiday Programs for their family members every year, just prior to winter break. Today, songs, dances, and skits celebrate the Christian holiday as well as the holidays and traditions of other faiths at these standing room only programs.
Rowland Hall students have participated in Candle and Carol, a holiday concert and service at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark, each December since 1922. This beautiful and thoughtful service includes student performances and a homily.
The Christmas Dinner Giveaway has been conducted by Crossroads Urban Center and hundreds of Rowland Hall volunteers—students, faculty and staff, families, and alumni—every December since 1995. Rowland Hall's Lincoln Street Campus became the home of the Give-Away when Crossroads needed a replacement location for this important event that provides holiday dinners for over 1,200 families in need each year. This heart-warming and critically important event is one that many of our returning alumni and current families have made a part of their holiday tradition for many years.
The Winter Sports program officially began in 1965. All students, first grade through their middle school years, enjoy this Friday afternoon program during January and February, when they can choose to ski, snowboard, bowl, ice skate, and more, with their peers and teachers.
During an Upper School morning meeting each February since 2009, the Upper School Student Council has presented distinguished graduates with its Alumni Hall of Fame Awards. A student inaugurated this award, and its recipients are chosen each year by the Student Council to honor alumni for their contributions to their former school community and the community-at-large through their professions and service. Honorees to date have been Anthony Sweet '60, Bonnie Phillips '60, Kristi Terzian Cumming '85, Michael Billings '97, Morgan Sorensen '07, Peter Billings, Jr. '63, Kelly Hannah '90, Christina Nielson Zidow '99, Tim Brown, '85, Erica Trauba, '03, Nancy Borgenicht '60, Eric Oehlerich '94, Terri Kindness '92, Luke Flockerzi '97, Sam McConnell '95, and Keely Kelleher '03.
Every year in March, Brigham Young University civil engineers set up their crusher in the Middle School commons and, one by one, test the balsa wood bridges designed and built by our sixth and seventh graders. The Bridge Building assignment asks the students to craft a bridge out of thin (1/10" x 1/10") sticks of balsa wood to support a load in the form of five pistons pushing on the top of the structure. Each bridge's load is divided by its mass to determine a ratio representing the efficiency of the design and construction. This is an annual competition intended for high schools, but because of our school's commitment to high achievement in this event, we are invited to compete each year.
Puttin' On The Arts is a spring tradition dating back to at least the 1980s. This Lower School student variety show is very much student-generated, yet teacher approved, entertainment for the students themselves and for families alike. Puttin' On The Arts Recitals are held separately and feature instrumental and vocal performances by our young students.
The Upper School Student Council organizes the annual Battle of the Classes—a week of spirited games and competitions between the grades during April. Each grade dons a class T-shirt designed by their grade's class officers. Regardless of which grade wins, our spirits are raised by the frivolity of the week!
Third Grade Biographies have been presented in May for over 20 years. Each year, each third graders chooses a biography to read and then present in a book report presentation, much to the delight of their classmates, teachers, and parents. Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Michelle Obama, Rosa Parks, John Lennon, Alexander Graham Bell, Eleanor Roosevelt, and more make their appearances...in costume.
Interim, Since 1975, Upper School students have enjoyed Interim, a weeklong experiential program unique among Utah schools. Students have the option of participating in a variety of in-town and out-of-town experiences that may include film studies and videography, learning about the world of public radio, cycling the Wasatch, hiking in Moab, river rafting, exploring environmental issues, and acquiring life skills that will come in handy in those first weeks of college.Beginning School and Lower School students celebrate the end of school with Color Day, an annual event that has each age group wearing a different brightly colored t-shirt to indicate their grade level. Featuring games, relays, water play, music, dancing, and lots of smiling faces—Color Day has been a tradition at Rowland Hall for over two decades.
The Hallmarker Dinner recognizes many donors who have made another successful year possible for the Annual Fund. Donors and class liaisons, as well as departing trustees, are recognized. Student musical performances are a highlight of this evening event that has taken place in early May for over two decades.
Each May, junior and senior art students present the AP Art Exhibit at an off-campus gallery location. These students learn much about the professional exhibition process and are very proud to highlight their work at an opening reception to which the entire school is invited.
The All-School Carnival was revived by Upper School student body officers in 2011 and was such a hit that we know it will be held annually each May henceforth! Rowland Hall alumni remember with fondness their spring carnival (called the Bazaar) dating back to the turn of the 20th century, and Rowland Hall-St. Mark's alumni well remember the spring art festival produced in the 70s by beloved former art teacher George Fox. The renewed Carnival features games, food, festivities, and student club booths on the McCarthey Campus and all are invited to join the fun!
At the final assembly of Lower School children and parents in June, Stepping Back is the highlight of the day. Each grade, in this tradition dating back to Rowland Hall boarding school days, takes a step back as they “graduate" to the next grade level for the coming school year.
Prior to graduation, the Alumni Committee chair inducts all member of the graduation class into the Alumni Association during the annual Senior Breakfast. This long-running event at which an accomplished alumnus or alumna is invited to speak kicks off the festivities of commencement week for seniors.
Following the Senior Breakfast, future graduates go to St. Margaret's Chapel on the McCarthey Campus for Baccalaureate Rehearsal. During this time, they are visited by the kindergartners, who have made bookmarks as gifts to the seniors, and who serenade the seniors with “Make New Friends And Keep The Old." This touching, annual Kindergarten and Senior Exchange is capped off when the senior class presents a class flag to the kindergarten class, a flag that will be framed and move with them forward from grade to grade until they graduate from Rowland Hall.
Senior Biographies are written each year by our sixth graders, highlighting the experiences of seniors during their time at Rowland Hall. During the spring trimester, sixth graders and their seniors get to know each other and share stories, then all the biographies are presented by the younger students during the final Senior Biography presentation.
The annual Baccalaureate Service is held in St. Margaret's Chapel on the Thursday evening before twelfth grade graduation ceremonies. The annual Senior Awards Dinner, to which families of graduates are all invited, follows the short service. These back-to-back events and awards have been Rowland Hall traditions for many, many years.
Commencement Exercises are held for graduating fifth graders, eighth graders, and twelfth graders. Fifth grade students are honored at a service in St. Margaret's Chapel, eighth graders' accomplishments are celebrated in the Larimer Center, and twelfth grade Commencement is held at the McCarthey Campus. The senior class traditionally selects the Commencement speaker from among their high school faculty. Annual faculty awards are given at each graduation ceremony.