What does Winter mean to Hunterdon Central Students?

Tis’ the season once again. 


We finally get the break we deserve, something we have all worked so hard for. Snow begins to fall upon the ground of our campus; our student body begins to prepare for a week off. Many homes have started to put up lights, and the outdoor portions of our building have started to close during lunch.


Of course, we have our own school spirit week celebrations upcoming. Ms. Panzitta and Ms. Olbrich of the Student Council have discussed some of the forthcoming festivities in our halls. From buildings full of paper snowflakes to a “plaid-urday,” our student council has worked hard to give 2021 an interesting final week. These councilmen had a great time putting the snowflakes in front of the house offices, eye-fulls worth of displays and winter goodness.

In our households, however, we see something truly remarkable. The coming together of people, for whatever reason that may be. Some, such as Robert Laube, are finally coming together with their families for Christmas. Robert tells me that his family always meets together during these holidays, celebrating themselves and ultimately taking their boots off.


Many students, including Saisambhav Gudi, have told me they celebrate the holiday without a religious background. His family treats it as a cultural celebration, like the Fourth of July, and even decorates a Christmas tree with family collectibles and treasures. 


We also have students who had an excellent time in the past few weeks celebrating Hanukkah, including an anonymous student named Ben. Meeting with family nightly, his family gifts everyone one significant gift instead of a smaller gift every day. I have also discovered that many of Ben’s friends, who remain anonymous, celebrate the exact opposite: several small contributions. In Hebrew, Hanukkah means ‘dedication,’ a virtue expressed in the story of the menorah, which was lit for 8-nights (replicated in the households, as is tradition).


Our classmates have also celebrated many other traditions throughout the season. Bryce Cohen, as an example, has discussed ‘Black Friday’ deals with me. Personally, Friday’s partner ‘Cyber Monday’ seems a more appealing deal. Bryce told me a few stories of waiting for the pearly gates to open, the light reaching his purple lips, and finally buying himself a proudly earned television for more than half off. 


An anonymous sophomore student and I discussed their celebration of Kwanzaa, the African-American artistic and cultural festival. They told me that their family decorates their home with straw mats and other family heirlooms. They also sing, dance, and exchange gifts. 


We gather with our families to celebrate our coming together all around our campus. We eat, dance, sing, and rejoice in our presence. Some, however, do not have such fortune. Many people across our county and even our school rely on donations and other charities for their well-being. Many barely have enough money to celebrate their holidays or enact their traditions. 


Many people I have talked with, including Elizabeth Hitchcock, have told me that they donate to nearby food pantries and charities every year. Even Hunterdon Central has its own ‘Nelly Claus’ Drive. After this year, after everything everyone has been through, we must think of others. 


I can argue that it only costs such-and-such or that you will feel a greater sense of satisfaction in yourself afterward, but that’s never the actual idea. All I can say is that we must empathize with our classmates, our peers. We look around our classrooms, find our peers; however, we are blind to what is true until we ask. This season of various celebrations, find some time to celebrate with those in need.