Holiday Traditions at Kennedy


Merideth Langton

Teachers Patrick Cory and Katie Peterson dress up as Mr. and Mrs. Claus the day before winter break. They dope to spread joy among the students.

Students gasp as they trickle into the foyer the morning before break. Snowflakes hang from the ceiling and teachers hand out hot chocolate and warm apple cider. The jazz band’s music fills the air, turning Kennedy into a winter wonderland. 

Decorations have filled the foyer for many years, but it wasn’t until social studies teachers Melissa Marzen and Patrick Cory decided to elevate the celebrations it became a staple of Kennedy’s culture. 

“Ms. Marzen and I, we decided we would dress up just for fun as Mr. and Mrs. Claus and we laughed a lot about it,” Cory said. “We decided, let’s do some chairs and a tree and greet some of Mary Gibney’s special needs kids. So we did that and handed out candy and things. We just kind of did more and more each year.”

Since the first appearance of Mrs. and Mr. Claus, more staff have gotten involved. Language arts teacher Katie Peterson enjoys the variety of celebrations Kennedy has each year. 

“We had some part of the jazz band playing some holiday music in the fishbowl area by the activities office. We’ve had an elf on the shelf appear, we’ve had some people dress up as reindeer and all different things,” said Peterson. 

The goal of these celebrations is to lift students’ mood. After a week of finishing up lessons and tests as the end of the semester approaches, it may be difficult for students to get excited for break. The celebrations work to combat the stress.

“It’s fun just seeing the interactions, people just getting into a spirit of laughter and coming together in different ways and just spreading that joy and happiness,” said Peterson.

These celebrations have a focus on Christmas, with reindeer, elves, Mr. and Mrs. Claus and holiday music. However, many Kennedy students celebrate other holidays or no holiday around the time of winter break. Kennedy teachers try to keep the celebrations more secular by not including nativity sets and other religiously-affiliated decorations, but there are still improvements to be made. 

“I think that is something that all of us need to kind of discuss and approach,” Peterson said. “How we can make sure we have components of [the celebrations] touch on or at least acknowledge different groups of people in those moments. That is definitely something that, moving forward, we need to be more conscientious of.”

Cory hopes everyone feels included in the celebrations regardless of the holidays they celebrate. 

“If I was in another country I would want to experience [the celebrations]. I definitely would want to see it and learn about it,” said Cory. “We hope that everyone feels accepted with [Kennedy’s traditions].”