The Happiest Tradition

Happiness members dance their closing number.
Happiness members dance their closing number.
River Borgerding

Known for their iconic yellow jackets and upbeat performances, Happiness Inc. is packed with rituals and memories that last for years after performers take their final bow. 

Happiness Inc. is Kennedy’s varsity show choir and practices almost year-round. The group travels to Nashville, Tennessee biannually to compete at nationals. Chants, ceremonies and awards all play a huge part in the traditions of Happiness. 

“Our traditions bring everyone closer because it’s something uniquely for the group and not something other groups do,” senior member Kenna McHenry said. “No one knows besides the group and its alumni which makes it really special.”

One of the best-known traditions is the jacket ceremony. Veteran members give the incoming members their Happiness jackets as a way to welcome them to the team. The event is something all members look forward to as a kick-off to the season.

I think the most meaningful one for new members is the Happiness jacket ceremony,” senior Alex Miller said. “We welcome the new members and they get their jackets and it’s generally something they all look forward to.”

Happiness also has pre-performance huddles and chants. Members treasure hyping each other up before taking the stage. 

“One of the traditions we do before competitions are our separate ‘guy and girl talks,'” McHenry said. “The girls always want to ask what the guys do, but it’s forbidden and kept a secret and we just won’t talk about it. After that, we all come together and do a combined chant and try to get louder than the other group and it gets everyone really excited to perform.”

After their regular competition season ends, the choir department hosts the Going Out Concert where Kennedy’s show choirs say an emotional goodbye to their seniors and perform for the last time. At the end of the concert, Happiness Inc. joins together on stage and welcomes alumni on stage to sing “Forever” together.

“During my first year in Happiness, when I was a junior, my sister, who used to be in the group was there, and during the song the alumni come up on stage,” McHenry said. “I got to stand with my best friend who was about to graduate and with my sister which was really special.” 

Behind the scenes, Happiness Inc. is packed with historic practices. Each member leaves with a part of their heart wrapped within their yellow jacket and memories that last a lifetime. Though the songs and dances are memorable, the true ‘happiness’ of the group lies in the bonds formed through traditions created and passed on among its members.

“Our traditions bring us together, Happiness Veterans and current Happiness members,” Miller said. “They’ve molded us into a unified choir and really just a group of friends. It has made us a closer-knit group and sets us apart from the other groups in Iowa and around the U.S.”

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