The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

WIS Traditions: Are They Still With Us?

WIS seniors partaking in the annual Valentines Day tradition. (Courtesy of Martina Tognato-Guaqueta/International Dateline)

For as long as WIS students can remember, the school’s unique traditions have been an integral part of the community and campus life. From the loud music that creeps into the halls during Valentine’s Day to the much-anticipated Senior Prank Day when the Tregaron campus turns into a water balloon fight battleground, these traditions have always shaped the student body’s experience. 

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, WIS traditions have seen a substantial shift in regulations, making many students feel nostalgic and long for pre-pandemic WIS. Students feel as if the administration is getting stricter when it comes to the continuation of traditions.

Junior and International Student Union (ISU) Treasurer Lucas Aemro Selassie, witnessed his first Senior Prank Day when he was in sixth grade.

“Seeing Senior Prank Day, seeing the way the campus was, it made me excited to grow up and become a senior,” he said. 

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As the youngest of three siblings, Selassie has long heard about WIS traditions throughout the years and believes these traditions make WIS unique. “It was what really made WIS stand out,” Selassie said.  

As ISU Treasurer, Selassie has been a part of the struggle to keep the traditions afloat. During the planning of WISMas, a yearly tradition where selected students and teachers sing the “The Twelve Days of Christmas” during the Winter Assembly, there were disagreements in the ISU meetings between administration and ISU members, specifically about allowing for the usage of inside jokes during WISMas.

“ISU felt restricted and unable to act as freely as they could,” Selassie said.

ISU is not the only place where students have felt the confines of the administration. 

Senior Martina Tognato Guáqueta has also noticed the tension between students and admin when it comes to upper school traditions.

“They [admin] take the joking spirit out of it, often not understanding the joking biome of the students,” Tognato Guáqueta said.

As the traditions were once viewed as a crucial element to the WIS community, they have now become less relevant to continuing the school’s culture. Although some ISU representatives advocate for less administration control towards upper school traditions, there is only so much that they can do.

“Despite [ISU advocating for less restrictions towards traditions] we can’t open lines of communication with people who aren’t willing to listen, much less compromise,” Tognato Guáqueta said. 

Associate Head of School Natasha Bhalla has yet to notice any change within the WIS traditions, and feels that, if anything, they have become stronger in recent years. “I feel like we have created more student traditions and they have overall become more positive experiences,” she said. 

Bhalla recognizes the importance of these traditions in building a bond within the community. “There is so much value in tradition,” Bhalla said. “We are an international school with many diverse perspectives on culture that having traditions give us a commonality.” 

This is not the first time that students have felt as if traditions were disintegrating. Alumna Elena Valente, who graduated in the Class of 2023, first noticed this shift during her junior year at WIS.  

“Especially for ‘Twelve Days of WISMas,’ I have been able to see it progress through the years and I felt that each year it was less and less like the first time,” Valente said. 

In the spring of 2019, there was an incident during Senior Prank Day, which involved a minor injury and the use of an inappropriate object. This incident severely impacted the Senior Prank Days to follow.

“After the incident of 2019, the admin never allowed the seniors to enjoy themselves freely on Senior Prank Day,” Valente said.

As the years advanced, she noticed that the sense of community that was once created by the students was lost. “As a sixth grader I felt like I was a part of a community with the seniors but later on, that feeling faded away,” Valente said.

As the traditions embellish the sense of being older for the participants and having something to look forward to for those who are younger, students have been noticing that this feeling is slipping away due to a lack of comprehension from the administration.

“The issue with this all is the lack of understanding from the administration towards student desire to experience long-lasting traditions,” Valente said. “I think the administration cares so strongly about their students that when it comes to traditions they must expect the worst outcome, where in the end they restrict the community that could be created by the traditions.”

Although Valente has now graduated, she still wishes for the WIS community bond to continue.

“I hope that future WIS students get to experience the excitement that comes with the WIS traditions,” Valente said. “I distinctly remember the thrill that me and my peers once felt.”


By Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal 



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Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal
Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal, Print Publications Editor/MS News Adviser

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