School shows love through Valentine’s Day celebrations

Ayesha Sen, Staff Writer

Throughout February, the school celebrated Valentine’s day through official and unofficial events, president of the Happiness Club (HC) Catherine Mignone (12) said. “We have Valentine’s and pink-themed celebrations to bring a whole month of love to HM.”

The HC aimed to make Valentine’s Day and the month of February especially memorable this year, Director of Upper Division Student Activities Caroline Bartels said. “We brought in chocolate-covered strawberries and kept keeping out tattoos and stickers and putting up decorations just to create a strong positive vibe in the community,” she said. “We set it up really well and hopefully the students have enjoyed it.”

The HC brought chocolate-covered strawberries on Monday, chocolate on Tuesday, healthy snacks with the Wellness Initiative Club on Wednesday, chocolate pretzels on Thursday, and cake pops with the Community Council for February birthdays on Friday, along with hot chocolate and coffee, Mignone said.

The HC also organized the Palentine’s table, where students created cards for their friends with craft materials provided by the library, Bartels said. “The cards table was actually very popular, I mean, we just had to keep restocking it over and over again,” she said. “Kids just see it as a soothing thing to just sit and create in-between tests or just to appreciate your friends every once in a while.”

Ashleigh Conner (11) enjoyed writing notes at the Palentine’s table because it gave her an opportunity to reflect in a creative way, she said. “It was a lot of fun because I could just tell my friends I love them in an artsy way,” Conner said. “Even though I had a stressful week ahead, taking a minute to appreciate my friends can always brighten my day.”

Mignone also helped organize the HM Shares Love Board on the second floor Tillinghast hallway for all of February, where people wrote small appreciations on heart-shaped paper and put it on the board, Mignone said.

Along with events leading up to the holiday, the school also held celebrations on Valentine’s Day itself. At break, HC members handed out heart-shaped cookies that students decorated with vanilla frosting, pink sprinkles, and candies, Mignone said.

During I period, the HC collaborated with HM Chefs United for the Culture to host a cupcake decorating event. “I went with some friends and we all had a lot of fun,” Riya Daga (11) said. “[After decorating], we could eat our cupcakes and chat with friends, which was a really nice way to relax after an exhausting day of school.”

While planning events, Mignone thought about what the community would appreciate and focused on little ways to brighten everyone’s day, she said. “The ‘Palentine’s’ table was a product of these [club] discussions, as were the chocolate-covered strawberries.”

The HC aimed for Valentine’s Day events that benefited the entire student body, Daga said. “Our overall mission is just to make everyone’s day just the tiniest bit better,” she said.

Bartels noticed that the overall community atmosphere improved with various Valentine’s Day initiatives, she said. “There was a whole group of 11th-grade girls, they’re sitting here giggling and enjoying and making cards together, just for whoever walks by,” Bartels said. “It was so heartwarming because I could just feel the happy Valentine’s Day spirit in the air.”

In addition to the formal Valentine’s Day initiatives that the HC planned, the school found ways to celebrate the holiday in more personal ways. Michelle Kim (11) stuck heart-shaped stickers on her friends’ clothes without them realizing, she said. “As someone who does not celebrate Valentine’s, it was a nice way of showing gratitude and love to my friends.”

Conner celebrated the holiday at school by handing out candy to her friends and exchanging Valentine’s Day themed gifts in the library, she said. “I got my friend flowers, a teddy bear, and a box of chocolates just to get into the Valentine’s Day spirit,” Conner said. “Even though the exchange was during passing time — so not very long — it was such a great and memorable experience.”

Valentine’s Day celebrations at school emphasized other meanings of the holiday, Bartels said. “The most obvious meaning is the romantic aspect to the holiday, but there’s also other meanings,” she said. “It really is just about a way of showing love in general, like I saw so many kids making notes for teachers and for people in the cafeteria and stuff and I just thought that that was super sweet.”

Celebrating the holiday at school can also put a positive spin on the day even for those who may be feeling down, Niki Pande (9) said. “A lot of people don’t like Valentine’s Day especially if they’re single because it’s another reminder that they don’t have a significant other,” she said. “At school in particular, the emphasis was not on romantic relationships, it was more an appreciation of friendship and familial relationships, so I think even people who kind of resent Valentine’s Day could enjoy it at HM.”

School initiatives have also emphasized the positivity of the holiday, Daga said. “Some people are not very fond of Valentine’s Day, but I like the concept of a day dedicated to love and how we’re placing emphasis on it,” she said.

Overall, Kim especially enjoyed the school’s Valentine’s Day initiatives this year and hopes to see more in the future, she said. “Celebrating Valentine’s Day at school is important because it is another chance to think about the people we love even further,” she said. “This year, the school community showed me that we can express that love and gratitude through cards, chocolates, and gifts but also through simple messages and words.”