A cherished, longstanding Ashley Hall tradition, The Christmas Play assumed a digital format for its 2020 production in response to pandemic safety concerns. Against the backdrop of new technology, creative staging, and the need for the cast to socially distance, one thing remained clear: the love for this shared generational experience runs deep.
“This year we reimagined The Christmas Play in order to adhere to public health and safety protocols, and the spirit of this Ashley Hall tradition came to life in an entirely new way. Filmed outdoors on campus, the play allowed us to take full advantage of our cherished Senior Lawn as well as the Bear Cave, which served as the perfect backdrop for the Holy Tableaux.” —Head of School Jill Muti
Ask any alumna to name her favorite Ashley Hall memories, and The Christmas Play makes the list more often than not. Now in its 97th year, the annual performance is nearly as old as the School itself and draws together generations of graduates who relish memories of assuming roles of angels, shepherds, and jesters, reciting time-worn lines, and singing a repertoire that embodies the holiday season.
“The fact that you can reconnect so well with your Ashley Hall experience through watching the play makes it so special,” said Assistant Head of School and Upper School Director Anne Weston ’73, who treasures many fond memories of watching and performing in the play. “This year we worked hard to preserve the tradition of The Christmas Play in the face of challenging conditions.”
Historically, the logistics of The Christmas Play have adapted through the years to allow for location changes and staging demands, and the digital version represents the latest of these transformations. While the medium of delivery may change, it is reassuring to know the essence of this beloved tradition remains very much the same.
Another special Ashley Hall tradition is the sending of alumnae “telegrams.” Each year, alumnae cast members of The Christmas Play share warm wishes with members of the current cast. Filled with fun memories and loving support, these “telegrams” offer a glimpse into the special bond our alumnae have to their School and each other. Happy reading!
With the weather getting warmer, nothing sounds better than a nice, cool swim, but Ashley Hall wants students to always keep safety at the forefront. This week, faculty members Maggie Laney and Missee Fox have been emphasizing safety tips to remember with Pre-Kindergarten through sixth grade students. A year-round effort, water safety instruction begins in the fall and incorporates activities to encourage confidence in the water and build life-saving skills, including treading water for 5 minutes, swimming in clothes, and survival floating. Today, Lower Schoolfaculty member Kendall Lee’s fourth grade class practiced retrieving distressed swimmers with rescue tubes. Keep up the great work girls!
Grab your boots and join us for Square Dance at the Hall, hosted by the Class of 2018! Festivities will include live music, dancing with a caller, and more! A dinner of chili, mac-n-cheese, corn on the cob, and cornbread will be served. All students, parents, alumnae, siblings, and friends are welcome! Bring your whole family down to Ashley Hall and celebrate with the senior class! In case of rain, the event will be held in Davies Auditorium.
Online sales are now closed for this event. Tickets will available at the gate.
An evening designed to educate parents about Ashley Hall’s humanities curriculum spiral and the teaching philosophy used at Ashley Hall to deepen critical thinking, foster language appreciation, and enhance cultural perspective.
Check in (Smith Street Gate) | 5:40pm-6:00pm Welcome and Evening Overview (Dining Commons) | 6:00pm-6:25pm
Welcome, Carolyn Newton, History Department Chair The Ashley Hall Learning Spiral, Dr. Nick Bozanic, Assistant to the Head for Academic Affairs The Student Experience, Natalie Smith, class of 2018
Early Education Center (EEC) and Lower School, (Pardue Hall) | 6:30pm–7:55pm
EEC Director, Dana Van Hook, and Lower School Director, Polly Rainey, introduce the manner in which literacy, language, and social studies are explored and studied in their respective divisions. After the overview, guests will have the opportunity to visit student- led stations showcasing projects, experiences, and techniques.
Upper School: Grades 7 through 12 featuring the History, English, Modern Languages, and Classics Departments, (Jenkins Hall)
Session I | 6:30pm–6:55pm
Classics Department Panel Discussion (Jenkins Hall, Hoshall Room, 3rd floor)
Modern Languages Department Presentation and Discussion (Jenkins Hall, Room 300)
Session II | 7:00pm–7:25pm
History and English Departments: Grades 8 through 9, Harkness Discussion (Rivers Library, 2nd floor Conference Room)
History and EnglishDepartments: Grades 10 through 12, Harkness Discussion (Jenkins Hall, Room 302)
Session III | 7:30pm-7:55pm
Classics Department Panel Discussion (Hoshall Room, Jenkins Hall, 3rd floor)
Modern LanguagesDepartment Presentation and Discussion (Jenkins Hall, Room 300)
Departure | 7:55pm
Please be certain to leave your comment card in the baskets provided in Jenkins Hall or Pardue Hall. Thank you to all of the students, faculty, staff and parents who have contributed to make this a special evening of sharing and learning, and thank you to all of our guests for your interest in Ashley Hall.
Part angel and elf rolled into one, Dana Van Hook has spearheaded the Chicora Gift-Giving Project at Ashley Hall since 1999 and has helped share the spirit of this special season with approximately 3,000 Chicora Elementary students over this 18-year period. The Chicora Gift-Giving Project features a carefully assembled gift bag given to each student by Santa Claus himself at a special assembly at Chicora. The bag includes approximately 10 gifts: a new school uniform; toiletry items; new books based on the student’s reading level; and a special toy. Most importantly, the bags also include a personalized note from Santa with help from Ashley Hall students! “There is no agenda to the program and absolutely no overhead. 100% of everything is donated and comes from our amazing Ashley Hall community. The gifts given to these precious children takes pressure off their families during what is, for many, a financially challenging time of year. It fills my heart with a refreshed sense of joy every year,” said Dana.
This special holiday service project is embraced by students, faculty, parents, and Ashley Hall alumnae alike. Lively gift-giving assemblies are held in the Lower and Upper School with girls sharing presents and alumnae bring gifts to their Holiday party to contribute to the cause. Dana supplements contributions by shopping sales throughout the year, including buying Christmas cards the day after Christmas from the Dollar Store! Beginning the week prior to Thanksgiving, a special warehouse is donated for sorting of the inventory and bagging. Approximately 80 volunteers are involved in the bag assembly including Ashley Hall faculty/staff, 25 Upper School students, Chicora faculty members, and friends. Bags will then be transported to Chicora Elementary by bus—the large Ashley Hall 40-seater bus and 20 personal cars.
Thank you to all, especially Dana, for sharing your hearts with the children of Chicora Elementary School each December!
Over the last year, Early Education Center (EEC) teachers have noticed their student’s love of natural spaces and found objects here on campus. Last spring, faculty began discussing ways to document the children’s responses to nature and the Nature Retreat Project was born. The project was inspired by the faculty’s summer reading of the book Last Child in the Woods coupled with an on-site visit to the Laurel School in Northeast Ohio which offers a similar program as part of its nationally recognized preschool program.
Under the skillful direction of pre-kindergarten teacher Dana Molony, the search for the perfect Nature Retreat location began in early October. Wendy Robbins, the EEC atelierista, quickly joined the initiative to weave in Reggio-Emilia elements that would further support the program’s development. After a visit to Ashley Hall’s John’s Island property that features the school’s Sports Complex, it was immediately clear that it was the perfect place for this magical experience. Ms. Molony and Mrs. Robbins carefully prepared the property for exploration by creating paths in the forested areas surrounding the sports complex while teachers helped build excitement for each class’ upcoming immersion week.
During the month of November, each of the three Pre-Kindergarten classes traveled every day for a week to Johns Island by bus to take part in the Retreat. Following Reggio practice, the children served as “guides” as the group explored the wooded area. Students paused to examine everything from spider webs and fallen trees, to animal burrows and beetles. By visiting the same site day after day, the children were able to observe changes to the environment and build a lasting relationship with nature.
Not only was this an incredible learning experience for both the EEC children and teachers, but it also provided a cross divisional connection with the Upper School Science Department. Teachers from the Upper School science department joined the Retreat on select days to explore future collaboration opportunities which embrace the school’s Learning Spiral teaching philosophy.
Upper School Science faculty member, Allison Bowden, reflects on her EEC Nature Retreat experience:
Witches Broom and Wheel Bugs
Small hands pull a sweet gum near I’ve never seen a purple leaf. Flattened fingers become a cricket’s runway I’ve never held a bug. He reaches for a dried mat of grass I think it’s in the duckweed family. Dirt covered hand pinches a red berry tightly It’s food for winter animals. She holds a vine with twisting tendrils They are double springs.