Brewster’s 2020 Winter Carnival kicked off on a distinctly un-wintery January 11. With temps in the upper 50s, students didn’t need their heavy coats to enjoy the kickoff bonfire. The first order of business to get the annual fun started: TEAM THEMES!
This year, seniors in the Class of 2020 team saddled up to the theme The Wild West. Team Palmer’s juniors went Wii. Team Thomas’s juniors took on The 2000s. The sophomores opted for a musical direction: Team Cook went to Camp Rock, while Team Cornwell had Top Pop. Finally, the freshmen of Team Cooper recalled summer days with Teen Beach Movie.
After that, everyone was off to the races, each class trying to best the other in a range of competitions. First on deck: cake decorating, theme posters, and team area decorations. Team Thomas was the cake decorating champ, Class of 2020 nabbed best poster honors, and Team Palmer had the highest marks for its theme-centric Wii Team Area decor, featuring flashy props from Wii’s most popular video games, including Mario Kart, Guitar Hero, and Just Dance. But the Class of 2020 had the strongest overall start, with 27 points to second-place Team Palmer’s 24.
By Monday, the weather was back to its traditional winter chill, and students battled for the highest participation number on Pajama Day and the evening pie-eating contest. Team Cooper showed up and showed out with the most students donning their PJs. Dining Services provided the chocolate cream pies (heavy on the whipped cream) to be devoured. Winner Joonha Park of Team Cornwell seemed to adopt a strategy of getting right down to the crust early on. But as lights out arrived on Tuesday, the Class of 2020 was still in the Winter Carnival lead with 40 points.
Tuesday brought the three Ts: Team Color Dress Day, Tug-o-War, and Trivia. With more laughs than rope burns, Team Thomas muscled a win in the Tug-o-War showdown. The freshmen on Team Cooper bested the rest in the Team Color Dress Day with their black and white garb, and the seniors walked away with the trivia night win. (Here’s a quick taste: “Like Brewster, what state is also celebrating its bicentennial this year? Answer: Maine!) Midweek, Class of 2020 held its lead with 51 points. Anticipation for the Lip Sync Finale on Friday was high as kids tried to carve out rehearsal time for their team performances.
Wednesday’s Spirit Dress Day competition brought a lot of Bobcat gear off the hangers and out of the laundry baskets: Team Cooper had the most participants in Brewster attire, bringing their team’s rank up to No. 4. Team Palmer closed the day nipping at the heels of the seemingly unstoppable Class of 2020.
Thursday brought a thick, luscious snowfall to campus for the Twin Dress Day and The Winter Carnival Amazing Race. Once again, the freshmen of Team Cooper had the most participants in the day’s morning competition: Twin Dress Day. That evening, the Class of 2020 garnered the most points in the Brewster Amazing Race, an event that at one point had the contestants scurrying frantically outside on the field in the snow with phone flashlights searching for hockey pucks with their team names on them.
“Winter Carnival has always been my favorite week of the school year,” says Director of Student Development, Admission Counselor, and Carnival ringleader Allie Cooper. “There are always so many traditions in the week to look forward to from year to year. I love the way it brings our community together and all the fun our students and faculty have. My favorite is always the lip sync. They get better and better every year.” Cooper dropped a teaser: “Plus our Student life team always has a theme, this year we’ve got something really fun up our sleeves.”
Because Team Cooper won the Throwback Dress Up Day in the fall, they earned an interesting Carnival advantage: They elected to determine the order of the Winter Carnival finale, the much-anticipated Lip Sync. Per the Cooper mandate, the order was: 1. Class of 2020, 2. Team Palmer, 3. Team Thomas, 4. Team Cook, 5. Team Cornwell and at the end of the whole shebang: Team Cooper. With the lineup set, campus eagerly awaited the culminating event in the Smith Center at 10:10 a.m. Friday morning.
Friday arrived and streams of people, bundled against the morning’s single-digit temps, filed into the Smith Center. The bleachers were filled with students, staff, and faculty, with more faculty and staff along the railing lining the upper level. With DJ Shamar Whyte spinning the high-energy tunes and emcee Bret Barnett on the mic, the festivities commenced. As it is Brewster’s 200th birthday, the finale began with an 5-foot-tall birthday cake that contained a special surprise: Jordan Thompson ’20 jumping out with a Happy Birthday sign. Barnett announced that between Team performances, audience members would be called to the court to participate in games popular during John Brewster’s time. Pin the Beard on John Brewster proved popular, as did the Sack Races and Wheel-and-Stick Spin. To the classic strains of Pat Benetar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” three students took whacks at the “200” piñatas, showering one side of the bleachers with candy that was then tossed (and at times rocketed) across the crowd.
But it was the Team lip sync performances, of course, that stole the show. Students in all the performances ran through a series of dance numbers, lip syncing, and comic relief that included a bit of break dancing, several gasp-inducing splits, acrobatics, at least two mock fights, moonwalking, righteous air guitar, jumping, leaping, and general merriment. Several lip sync soloists vamped it up directly in front of the judges’ table, hoping to gain points for showmanship. DJ Shamar, AKA English faculty member Shamar Whyte who is, indeed, a professional DJ, kept the music flowing. Tracks including the Friends theme song, Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” and Bruno Mars’ “Treasure” had the crowd singing along. Class of 2020 came out strong with a country-glazed medley of songs befitting its Wild West theme. Team Palmer’s juniors entered the court walking like video characters from Wii games, first paying homage to Wii Sports and closing with a frantic Mario Kart race using grocery carts borrowed from the local market. T.J. Palmer donned the Donkey Kong costume to close the act with his mighty hammer, signaling his students to collapse to the floor. Team Cook ended its Camp Rock-themed performance by hoisting Team Leader Brad Cook in the air in a canoe and dancing him off stage as he tossed inflatable guitars to admiring fans. Team Cooper’s massive group dance had beachy exuberance with lots of Hawaiian shirts and leis, and Team Cornwell’s dance moves got whoops from the stands.
But it was Team Thomas’s tightly choreographed musical tribute to the 2000s that stole the show. Gus Schoenbucher kicked it off, seamlessly syncing a rendition of the “Friends” theme song. Faculty members Jonathan Browher and Matt Found boogied in a few numbers, and Team Leader Barb Thomas danced out with cool-as-that sunglasses to cap the energetic set.
In the final tally, Team Thomas’s lip sync win gave the juniors the points they needed to overtake the Class of 2020 for the big Winter Carnival Cup win. Two points separated the top two scores. Congratulations to all the students, faculty, and staff for another winter blues-busting event in the record books for Brewster.
Winter Carnival 2020 Final Standings:
6th Team Cook
5th Team Cornwell
4th Team Cooper
3rd Team Palmer with 87 pts
2nd Class 2020 with 96 pts
1st Team Thomas with 98 pts
Photo Credits: Maria Found, Barb Thomas, Marta Carreño, Suzanne Morrissey
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