Unique Traditions at Hoosac School in New York
Hoosac School is a top boarding high school in New York rich with traditions, some of which have existed for over one hundred years. Students seamlessly integrate these little rituals into their daily lives without even noticing how special Hoosac is for having them. Here are a few of the most noticeable traditions we uphold here at Hoosac:
Upon their arrival at Hoosac, every student is sorted onto either the Antonian (named for Mount Anthony, which is to the north of the school) or the Graftonian (named for the Grafton Hills that bracket the southeastern edge of campus) team. Each team also reflects the school colors: red for the Antonians and purple for the Graftonians. These teams compete throughout the year for the most points, and the winning team is granted the prestigious Guilford Cup! Competitions include dodgeball games, swimming contests, and an entire day dedicated to Antonian/Graftonian events: Asado Day, in the spring. Participation in on campus charity events or other fun activities can also count towards each team’s point total. Nothing brings out Hoosac spirit and pride like an Antonian vs. Graftonian competition.
One of the grandest and oldest traditions at Hoosac, the Boar's Head and Yule Log Pageant has been performed every year for one hundred and twenty four years straight. It is a school-wide production that celebrates the Christmas season in true medieval style. The show starts out solemnly, with songs representing the birth of Christ and several contemporary martyrs, followed by a feast of roast beef, greens, and an authentic boar's head. After dinner comes the fun portion of the evening: Father Christmas, the Mummers Play, and lively songs and dances entertain the crowd. It is also the time for the Jester, the Lord of Misrule, to appear. One Jester is chosen by the Headmaster per year and they have free reign to enact well-meaning mischief during the show and for a few weeks after. For more information on the Boar's Head and Yule Log, see our Boar's Head and Yule Log page.
Bleeze Banquet is one of the best nights on campus for the VIth Formers at Hoosac. The night begins with a church service where many of students either sing the school choir or serve as alter boys/girls. This is followed by a burning of the greens which signals the end of the Jester's misrule (see above), and the first step toward commencement. Students pose and take photographs in front of the large bonfire. The entire school then moves into the dining hall where both students and faculty sit at tables arranged in the shape of a cross, another time honored Bleeze tradition. In addition to the great food and fellowship, many students take advantage of the photo booth before giving their attention to an alumni keynote speaker. After an emotional speech, there are usually three or four musical performances by some of the school's best musicians. Students then close out the evening with a candle toast to the VIth Form, the prefects, the faculty, staff and alumni before joining in the school ode.
This time-honored custom is one that every generation of former Hoosac students has experienced. Every student is assigned a particular job around campus that they have to attend to throughout the week. Jobs include being a waiter or clearer at meals, stacking the books in the Chapel, and making sure the public areas such as the Squealery/Student Center and the Day Student Lounge are kept neat and tidy. Not only is the workjob program a character building exercise for students, it also unites them as part of the community - this is their home, our home, and we should take care of it. Additionally, the members of the VIth Form spend their final year planning and fundraising for a week-long service trip before they graduate. In the past, students have worked with Habitat for Humanity, the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, and several community centers up and down the east coast. The VIth Form service trip is a wonderful opportunity for Hoosac students to go out into the world around them and make a difference.
The Dining Hall Bells
Before every meal in the Memorial Dining Hall, the Steward must ring the bells and call the attention to the Headmaster for a brief blessing. The bells must be struck in the same order they have always been struck, to create the same chimes. By the end of the year, every student knows the chime of those bells by heart, and cannot think of a meal in the dining hall starting without them.
Every Friday at Hoosac, during morning Chapel, there are Birthday Prayers. The Headmaster reads the name of every current student who has a birthday that week, they receive a small Hoosac pin, and a short prayer is said. What makes this so unique is that the Headmaster also reads the name and birthday of every student who ever went to Hoosac, often with memories and anecdotes in accompaniment. Without fail, if you attended Hoosac, your name is heard every year in that week’s Birthday Prayers.