Lincoln Academy’s Winter Carnival is a tradition that brings the Newcastle high school school together as a community, and the 2017 edition was no exception. During Winter Carnival, which lasts one week, each day has a dress-up theme and a time set aside for games in the afternoon. The school day schedule is adjusted by 30 minutes each day to make time for these games, with a longer game time on Friday. Activities range from dodgeball, volleyball, and quiz bowl to traditional team-building competitions like the class crawl and the class sit.
“Winter Carnival is very important to school culture,” said Student Council Vice President Sam Russ, a sophomore. “The competitiveness between classes allows kids who don’t always participate in extracurricular activities to work with their classmates on something besides schoolwork. There is something special about cheering for your classmates while they throw balls through a small hole or run across the gym on their hands. Similarly, there is no better way to bond with someone than if you’re sitting on their lap for ten minutes in the class sit. Winter Carnival causes the classes to act as one unit, one team.”
“There is absolutely a mood change in the school during Winter Carnival” said LA senior and student body president Jupiter Solorzano. “There is a buzzing excitement that is palpable. There is a lot of tension between the classes, but it is a healthy, playful tension.”
Classes compete all week for faculty shield points, which determine whether freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors walk away with bragging rights as Winter Carnival Winner. This year was hard-fought, with seniors taking the lead early on Friday, only to lose to juniors in climactic fashion during the last event on Friday afternoon, the whole-class tug-of-war.
Other traditional and well-loved events include an obstacle course, wheelbarrow and three-legged races, and the class yell. LA science faculty judge the class yell using a decibel meter to determine which class can make the most noise using only their voices. “The seniors almost always win the class yell, and this year was no exception,” said physics teacher Libby Mooney. “Over the years of high school they learn about yelling technique, and they also just get less self-conscious about screaming in public.”
This year’s dress up days were particularly popular, with hundreds of students wearing costumes according to each day’s theme. This year the 80s and twin day themes were the most popular dress-up days.
“It’s a wild ride of a week,” said LA history teacher and Student Council advisor Brian O’Mahoney, who is the lead faculty organizer of Winter Carnival. “Lincoln Academy is one of the few Maine high schools that still does anything on this scale. There’s a place for everybody during Winter Carnival. This year two international students who just arrived at school a few weeks ago led the sophomores to victory in volleyball. I also love the quiz bowl; there was actually huge amounts of studying going on, and the juniors (who ultimately won the event) actually read the history of LA. I am also grateful for all the help of the faculty; so many teachers are willing to show up and take a role when I ask them to.”
Even Lincoln Academy’s international students, for whom Winter Carnival is a completely new concept, get swept up in the spirit. Winter Carnival was “one of the moments I felt proud of being in the class,” said Novak Chen, a senior from China.” It really helps us to understand school spirit.”
“I have never felt more connected to my class than when we’re all screaming at each other that we’re strong, and that we can do anything. My throat is always sore after Winter Carnival, but it’s worth it to feel so united,” commented Jupiter Solorzano. “I see a huge impact on the relationships between students during Winter Carnival.”
More photos of 2017 Winter Carnival are posted in LA Flickr albums at this link.