Cultivating Communities

Stevenson spirit moves online, new traditions arise

Focoming: A Student Celebration of Tradition

In any ordinary year, Mollie Duffy ’21 would be dancing the night a

Duffy and her friends at their “focoming” gathering. The students wore masks to adhere to safety guidelines with respect to COVID-19.

way in the Field House during Homecoming. She would be just one of over 2,000 other students crashing into each other as music blares and strobe lights flood the room. However, this year Duffy could be found with a handful of friends dancing at home as they ate pizza and watched a movie, during what many have dubbed “focoming.”

Duffy was one of many students who chose to have a “fake” or “faux” Homecoming this year. Despite the official dance and many other festivities being cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic, students and clubs have worked to adapt many typical Stevenson traditions in order to maintain a sense of school spirit.

“We are seniors in high school and we didn’t want our last homecoming to go to waste, so we decided to put something together,” Duffy said. 

Duffy and five of her closest friends chose to dress up and take pictures as they would for any ordinary dance. They did so wearing masks and kept the number of participants low in order to ensure everyone’s safety and prevent the spread of COVID-19. 


StuCo Reshapes Student Engagement

Student Council Historian Katie O’Donnell ’21 expressed that many Student Council members were disappointed that they could not plan the dance this year. However, the club worked to organize other socially distant and virtual events to unite the student body despite the loss of large-scale celebrations. 

“We have a pumpkin decorating event going on right now, and the submissions are fantastic so far,” O’Donnell said.

Students were able to decorate a pumpkin and submit their work to the Student Council Instagram page for the “Patriot Pumpkin Palooza” event. Members who ran the event voted on the winners for the contest. The “Patriot Pumpkin Palooza” event is just one of the events Student Council is holding; they are also implementing a spirit dress up week, a costume contest for cars and pets and many more in an effort to help keep Stevenson spirit alive and students engaged.

O’Donnell believes that the student engagement has been incredible.

“It’s clear that students want to get involved more with our events, possibly due to boredom, hopefully due to school spirit, [but] most likely due to our Amazon gift cards,” O’Donnell said.

Not only is Student Council trying to maintain a sense of spirit for their peers, but also for its club members. Through this year’s virtual setting, Student Council has created new traditions to encourage its members to show off their school spirit by wearing spirit wear. 

“All Student Council members are asked to do Spirit Fridays,” O’Donnell said. “In fact, in our Executive Board meetings during third hour on Fridays, if anyone isn’t wearing spirit wear, they have to sing ‘I’m a Little Teapot’ in front of everyone on the Zoom.”


Bringing Freshmen into the Fold

While Student Council works to spread school spirit throughout the entire Stevenson student body, the Freshman Mentor Program (FMP) program is working to instill a sense of connection to the Stevenson community for the freshmen.  FMP Coordinator Zara Dittman said she believes that all Stevenson students are trying their best to adapt to this new reality. Despite the challenges that working online brings, FMP has continued to try to plan activities that welcome freshmen into this new community. 

“The venue has changed, but the enthusiasm and mission of making connections with freshmen and supporting them with the transition, that hasn’t changed,” Dittman said. 

Freshmen Mentors have run a variety of virtual activities this year in advisory, a class required for first years to take so they can have a smooth transition into high school at Stevenson. For instance, they had freshmen take surveys in order to learn more about them so that leaders can connect each individual to certain clubs they may be interested in.

“Engagement is so important in your classes and in advisory,” Dittman said. “If you commit to engaging with the content, your teachers, and your peers, you will have a more positive experience and you will take something meaningful away from the time you spend online.”

This year, FMP has had the opportunity to spend more time discussing connections and culture within the Stevenson community. Duffy, Director of Communications on the FMP Executive Board, voiced excitement about activities FMP has planned to help freshmen connect with those around them and the Stevenson community at large. 

“Whether online or in person, FMP is about creating connections to Stevenson and the advisory community,” Duffy said. “Although it’s not the same as advisory in person, Zoom gives us a unique outlet into each other’s home lives that I think is an unintentional benefit whilst building community as a Mentor.”