Winterfest week has turned into the biggest thing to look forward to this year



The last Winterfest assembly that was normal: 2020

Senior Roman Kalaczinski hasn’t been able to celebrate Winterfest week since his sophomore year of high school.

“I always remember the lip-syncs being so much fun my freshman and sophomore year,” Roman said. “Winterfest isn’t the biggest dance that FHC has to offer, but I honestly think that this year it will be really big. Every grade will be involved and everyone will be together for the first time in forever—it’s going to be something to look forward to for sure. We have all of these events going on during Winterfest week, and it’s just something really fun to have in this time where we don’t have a lot of things to look forward to.”

While the senior class has had the upper hand and more experience compared to their peers, their junior year was still swept from beneath them. With FHC going back and forth between virtual and fully in-person, it was nearly impossible to set up anything for the kids to enjoy. This school year, FHC has been able to put on both the Homecoming dance and now Winterfest week. While the Winterfest dance was up in the air for the last month, it got Roman thinking about the consequences of the unhealthy freedom that could have been granted to students.

“The more I thought about it, even if we didn’t plan on having a school-sanctioned dance, it probably would have been riskier for everyone’s health,” Roman said. “Administration, thankfully, realized that hosting an event that the school runs and has control over would probably be better than letting individual groups go off and do whatever they want.”

While the decision to keep the Winterfest dance must have been hard, it has made students excited for something new. The second semester of school is infamously known for being the longest and most drawn-out, so it’s safe to say that everyone needs a break during this time. It’s not just the students, even some staff members agree, such as History teacher Laura Stiles.

“Winterfest week is a time to celebrate away the doldrums of winter,” Stiles said. “It’s a time to celebrate all of the good things we do. It’s a time to show off Ranger Country. And, it’s a time to get fired up. This is the worst time of year because of the weather, I love that we have Winterfest in February to have this chance to lighten up and feel refreshed.”

As juniors and seniors can recall, assemblies and events have always been a big deal to students and the facility of FHC. It’s a time for everyone to group together and feel connected under one event when otherwise, there might be some divide by grade or interest. With this grand opportunity, FHC needs to make this week the best it has ever been to get everyone back together once more.

“I’m so excited for everything to go back to normal,” Stiles said. “I’m not even going to ask Mr. [Jeff] Manders or FX to livestream the assembly or any of the events. We need everyone in the gym to see this. Freshmen and sophomores have never been in the gym with the whole school for the assemblies. The ‘This is Ranger Country’ cheer—I can’t wait to hear everybody do that. It makes the hair on my arms stand up.”

I love the Winterfest assembly; my favorite part of teaching is putting on those assemblies. It’s a perfect chance for everyone to come together and show off. The Dance Team gets to put on a show, the seniors have their court and more.

— Laura Stiles

While everyone is more than excited to get everyone back together under one roof, this year, one of the best parts of Winterfest is the fact that it has become so big. For 2022, staff members are doing their best to make this week something fresh and exciting. 

“We are really trying to pack in things we haven’t been able to do to make Winterfest a little bit bigger and a little bit better to match [Homecoming’s energy,]” Stiles said. “When I was a student at FHC, I don’t remember having this whole week of celebration for Winterfest. But, now, I love that we have three weeks for dances: Homecoming in the fall, Winterfest in February, and Prom has turned into a week now as well.”

While the entire week leading up to Winterfest is now filled with events like window painting and creating snow sculptures, there are also some add ons that make Winterfest bigger than ever. With Pitstop Barbecue now sponsoring a lunch for all students on Wednesday and live entertainment for the assembly on Friday, this week is something that everyone will remember.

Staff is aware that some students may not feel comfortable with COVID-19 still being a real concern and have come up with a backup plan for those who don’t wish to participate. Teacher Kristin O’Brien has been on top of Winterfest week for some time and has come up with a plan to make everyone feel safe.

“The underclassmen haven’t seen the full effect of Ranger assemblies,” O’Brien said. “Having everyone together is great. There are some students, I’m sure, who might be a little more cautious about this so we do have a backup plan for them, which is spending their time in the library. But, most students are happy to be able to be back and find a sense of normalcy together.”

While this year’s Homecoming was somewhat successful, Winterfest 2022 will go down in history as the first completely familiar dance that FHC has had since 2019. With all of the loss FHC has had, this is the perfect opportunity to show everyone that we aren’t alone—we are Ranger Country.

“The main point is to bring our Ranger pride together,” O’Brien stated. “Last Winterfest, we were bouncing around with the idea of still having the dance, but that obviously didn’t happen. Now, we have all of these events and dress-up days to make up for that. Winterfest gives us the opportunity to set ourselves apart from everybody else and build up our pride.”