Packer’s Traditions: The Old and the New
Packer has long been recognized as a progressive school, although throughout the past 172 years, it has also developed many beloved community oriented traditions;From Winter Celebration to CIA Day to May Day and the Babbott Lecture, Packer’s traditions play a core role in student’ lives and are a testament to the community’s long history.
“Humans have a deep-seated need to abide by such established patterns. They bring us comfort. We love their pomp and circumstances; we wait for them,” said Tim Flannery, Upper School Latin teacher. “We crave ritual. It helps us delineate what we hold most dear, what we stand for.”
Mr. Flannery boasts an impressive 24 years of being part of the school community. His favorite traditions include, “our lovely Winter Celebration hour spent together before break” and, “CIA day — a day given over to examination and reflection, to looking deeply at the social and emotional side of our community.”
Although many traditions stay largely unchanged, some have changed significantly, such as one of the most important days of the year: graduation day.
“Packer has grown over the years. The number of students in each graduating class, their family members who want to be present, for example — has significantly increased.” said Mr. Flannery.
As well as graduation, meeting for Chapel remains one of the school’s longest traditions. Although much has changed since the 1800s, the core principal of the tradition remains the same.
“Chapel, which has changed, is also a tradition. Up until 1972, every day everyone started school in Chapel,” said Dona Laughlin, Director of Alumni, “it was a big part of the day.”
It’s role in the school has changed since the time when Packer was an all-girls school. “We still go to Chapel, we just don’t go to it every day,” said Dona Laughlin, “we don’t start off the morning in Chapel, but we still go to it sometimes and it remains a tradition.”
Participating in traditions like May Day and Winter Celebration also resonate with younger Packer students.
“Well, [May Day] was really fun, practicing with the whole grade, I really felt like I was part of something. I just got to know the grade better, and their dancing skills,” said Teddy Yankauer (‘22).
Aside from traditions like May Day and Winter Celebration, Packer still upholds some smaller and more controversial traditions, such has not being allowed to wear hats in the chapel.
“I think the rule ‘hats off in the Chapel’ is out-of-date,” said Eric Weisberg, Upper School English teacher. “The Chapel custom must have originated in the pre-diversity days of Packer, when every student in the institution was Christian.”
Mr. Weisberg has taught at Packer for the last 20 years and has seen the school grow and change. Although many traditions have changed and evolved, some have remained the same for the past hundred years.
“I love PCI, which predates World War One, because it is a K through 12 publication. You can read the poem of a second grader on one page and the poem of a senior on the next page,” said Mr. Weisberg.
Teachers like Mr. Flannery and Mr. Weisberg have seen these traditions grow and come to life throughout their many years of teaching at Packer.
“Removing any one of these traditions would be — for me, at any rate — like removing a holiday from the calendar. Unthinkable!” said Mr. Flannery.