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.
View the 2020 Christmas Play
The Christmas Play Alumnae Telegrams
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!
Read the Alumnae Christmas Play Telegrams
Screenagers, the Next Chapter:
Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience
October 21 | 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. | Davies Auditorium
Open to all Ashley Hall families, both parents and students, and the Charleston community. Especially relevant for students in grades 7 and above and their parents. Parking is available in the Smith Street lot, which is accessed via Warren Street. Please enter campus through the Smith Street gate.
Free of charge, but reservations are requested.
October 24 | 8:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. | Burges Auditorium
Open to Ashley Hall parents only. Especially relevant for parents of students in grades 7 and above. Due to limit campus parking during the school day, parking is available at J. Henry Stuhr Downtown Chapel, 232 Calhoun Street.
Free of charge, but reservations are requested.
Watch Screenagers Video Trailer
From the director of Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age comes Screenagers, The Next Chapter: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience, a film about helping young people thrive in our screen and stress-filled world.
Filmmaker and physician Delaney Ruston uses a personal lens and professional eye to help parents flip the script on stress, anxiety, and depression. We follow Ruston as she suddenly finds herself at a loss on how to help her own teens as they struggle with their emotional wellbeing. Ruston sets out to uncover how we understand these challenges in our current screen-filled society.She also explores how we as parents and schools empower teens with skills to overcome mental health challenges and build emotional agility, communication savvy, and stress resilience.
The film is intended for parents and students starting from age 10 and up. As with Screenagers, this new documentary is all about creating events in which people come together, watch the film, discuss the takeaways, and make plans for moving forward to further its impact.
Some of the featured experts in the film include the following:
- Daniel Pine, M.D., chief psychiatrist, National Institute of Mental Health
- Dan Siegel, M.D., director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA
- Drs. John and Julie Gottman, founders of the Gottman Institute
- Laura Kastner, Ph.D., psychologist, and author of Wise-Minded Parenting
- Ned Johnson, co-author of The Self-Driven Child
- Adriana Galvan, Ph.D., Chair in Behavioral Neuroscience UCLA
On the last day of Horizons at Ashley Hall, a little rain could not dampen the spirits of 30 exuberant first and second graders from Memminger and Mitchell Elementary Schools as they celebrated six weeks of achievements and well-earned confidence boosts. Having experienced a transformative summer of reading, STEAM classes, music, and swimming, each girl will begin her school year better prepared academically and will return to Ashley Hall’s campus this fall and spring for special Saturday Horizons sessions. For the many faculty, staff, and volunteers who made Horizons at Ashley Hall possible, those special sessions cannot come soon enough. “I had to hug each girl and personally tell her goodbye,” said Shannon Laribo, Class of 2011, who is an Assistant Director of Admission at Ashley Hall and who served as a reading specialist during Horizons. “I can’t wait to see them again and hear how things are going with their school year. ”
As the first South Carolina school and second all-girls’ school in the nation to offer the award-winning, tuition-free Horizons program, Ashley Hall prioritizes academic innovations and meaningful community connections such as Horizons. In addition to faculty and staff working as teachers, the School’s student and alumnae volunteers served as Horizons Assistant Teachers (HATS), a crucial element to establishing a welcoming campus environment for the girls and building meaningful friendships. With a 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio, the resulting program was a playful curriculum augmented by field trips, healthy lunches, and an overall emphasis on family involvement, with parents and students agreeing to return each summer through eighth grade. “Multi-year mentoring and an ongoing commitment by the parents and students are hallmarks of the Horizons program and provide a foundation for its proven success,” said fifth grade science and math teacher Kiki Sweigart, who serves as Horizons at Ashley Hall’s program director and lead teacher.
With the summer nearly over and the start of the school year just a few weeks away, Ashley Hall’s inaugural Horizons students took a few moments to savor everything they had accomplished and to look forward to more happy times on campus with their new friends. “I liked music class and singing best,” said Khloe Conyers, age 6. “I liked my teachers and friends and working together even better.”
Thank you to The Post and Courier for the heartfelt story on Horizons at Ashley Hall. In its inaugural summer at Ashley Hall, Horizons National is an award-winning program designed to combat the “summer slide.” This amazing group of 1st and 2nd grade girls from Charleston’s Memminger Elementary School and Mitchell Elementary are developing a deep love of learning all under the guise of summer fun! Click on the button below to read the full article.
More Information and how to get involved:
Horizons at Ashley Hall website
Horizons National Website
Senior Project at Ashley Hall is one of the school’s most distinguished programs. This student-directed, year-long class is a synthesis of intense research, critical thinking, and targeted community outreach allowing students to delve deeper into a specific topic of interest. Selected through a competitive application process the prior spring, Senior Project girls begin researching their proposed topic over the summer months. This research then fuels their work over the course of the school year as the projects evolve. During April of the following year, the girls present their Senior Project research findings to the Upper School student body along with other distinguished guests. Click on the button below to view a full list of this year’s presentations.
2018 Senior Project Presentations
Past Senior Project Presentations:
On Friday, Ashley Hall recognized its 2018 graduates during “The Spiral Walk,” a campus procession through each division that celebrates not only the wonderful young women the graduates have become but also the bright future that awaits them. A new tradition established last year, “The Spiral Walk” began at the Shell House, where each senior received a small conch shell with her graduation year written inside as a symbol of both the spiral curriculum and the conch shells on the Shell House. “I was walking across senior lawn last spring and looked to my right and saw first and second grade girls walking to the Ingram Arts Center,” said Upper School faculty member Chris Hughes, who created “The Spiral Walk.” “I then looked to my left and saw seniors hanging out on senior lawn—where else can you see who you were and who you will become in one glance? I started thinking about how the girls move through the buildings on campus by starting with the Early Education Center (EEC) and ending in the Upper School.”
After Head of School Jill Muti read aloud the poem “The Chambered Nautilus” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., those seniors who started in the EEC initiated the walk and stopped at each division to pick up their classmates where they had commenced their Ashley Hall journey. Girls in each division sang a special song to honor the seniors, and as the entire senior class entered Davies Auditorium, the rest of the Upper School stood and greeted them with the song “Oh Ashley Hall.” “I think this is a meaningful walk because it gives all the younger girls the opportunity to not only pay homage to the seniors but also to get a glimpse into who they will become as Ashley Hall girls,” said Chris. “For the seniors, it is a trip down memory lane and a visual reminder to reflect on their time spent here and the wonderful teachers they had along the way. It is a circle of endings and beginnings.”