By Fiona Haze and Jake Lupu
As the Christmas break draws closer, the HS students restlessly run from classroom to classroom through the ASW hallways. But something is different this year. Usually the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade hallways would be decorated, the grade levels eager to compete for first place in the Deck the Halls event. This year however, the Student Council is starting Deck the Trees, and the long-celebrated tradition of Deck the Halls has been renounced.
According to Ms. Hansen explained that both teachers and students were concerned about the amount of waste being produced in order to decorate an entire hallway. The leadership council last year implemented a sustainability category for scoring. However, large amounts of waste were still being produced. A large demand for art supplies was also an issue with decking the halls.
Ms. Hansen let Warrior News know that Deck the Trees was inspired by an additional impromptu competition the leadership council set last year in which each advisory was given points for creating ornaments to decorate a tree placed in the commons. The leadership council thought that the tree looked great, and that it would be a great modification for the competition.
Additionally, it always seemed as if it was only a few students who ended up decorating the hall, said Ms. Hansen. The idea of every advisory each contributing to a tree was much more efficient in the sense of that advisory time could also be dedicated to decorating the tree, instead of hours spent before and after school decorating a whole hallway.
When it comes to other options than Deck the trees, Ms. Hansen said that she believed that there weren’t any other options considered. As December is a busy month for the Leadership Council (secret santa gift exchange, deck the trees, and a dance), she stated that all options may not have been considered carefully.
Will the tradition of Deck the Trees be continued in the coming years? This hasn’t been decided on yet, but the Student Council does now have four trees that can be reused for the upcoming new grade levels. She stated that the council will need to receive some input from the staff and students about whether Deck the Trees will move forward in future years.
The winning tree will be determined by the teachers, who will “score” each grade level hallway using the aforementioned rubric. Voting will begin on Thursday, December 5th, and be finished by Friday afternoon, December 6th. Ms. Hansen encourages all teachers to visit the trees and to cast their votes.
According to Ms. Hansen, she has already “witnessed more students working together to complete the trees [than the hallways].” She added that the halls tended to have less winter-related themes that “did not necessarily capture the holiday spirit.” Despite there being the possibility of the trees to have non-holiday themes, she said “a tree with lights to me represents holidays so certainly raises my spirits!”
Aleksandra N., the 12th grade president of Student Council, also believes that decorating a tree should result in building community – she states that it definitely has done so with the seniors. It brought them a little closer to one another, which didn’t occur with deck the halls. However, she says, Deck the Halls did make a larger part of the school look festive and that a tree might be too small to create a large amount of holiday spirit. Next year, the student Council will encourage the grade levels to decorate areas surrounding the tree. Lastly, she states that in her unbiased opinion, she thinks that the seniors will win due to the fact that they have a very original and personal theme ad that aesthetics were considered greatly.
Between the students, feelings are divided. Some dislike it (some more strongly than others), but there are also people that are really excited about this becoming a new tradition, and are looking forward to that.
For example, Zosia A. (12), said that personally she thinks that “deck the trees isn’t as impressive as deck the halls was [because] it’s just a single tree, while with the entire hall we had more to work with [and thus] everyone just got more involved.” She added that her favourite memory is of deck the halls last year (2018), saying that “you could really feel everyone’s integrity and how the whole grade worked together to make this event memorable [which] made the win so much more satisfying.”
Max S. (11) also said that he “personally [prefers] ‘Deck the Halls,’ as it felt a lot more collaborative (especially since we used advisory time to do it, which meant that we were all working at the same time). [Because it’s just one tree] it’s quite difficult to have multiple people working on it at the same time, and leaves less room for creativity. With that being said, I can see that ‘Deck the Trees’ is far more environmentally friendly, as there is less waste.” He adds, “Maybe if we had multiple trees, or a smaller section of the hallways, we could reach a solution that pleases everyone.”
On the other side, Cesur B. (11) says that “it is a good change. There would be a lot less […] to clean up, and it doesn’t take as much time [or] resources to decorate a tree.” He says that he’s looking forward to “coming up with more themes, [as in] Deck the Halls we came up with some ideas that would be too expensive to implement, or require a lot of manpower.”