On November 23, Collegiate School was filled with high-pitched screams and piercing whistles as 5th through 12th grade girls filled Oates Theater in preparation for the much-anticipated Brunch 2016.
Before the show officially began, junior girl “runners” sprinted across campus in their sparkly skirts to retrieve girls from different grade levels and usher them into Oates. Once inside, audience members were able to experience the theater in all its Brunch glory. Christmas lights of every color imaginable covered the walls, wrapped around columns, and gracefully draped down from the highest rows of the theater. A disco ball hung from the catwalk spun round and round, upbeat dance music blared through the speakers, and junior girls danced their hearts out on stage. Madison Flinchum (‘20) “really liked the music leading up to the start of Brunch because it was really fun.”
When everyone was in their seats, the show was finally able to begin. Everyone anxiously awaited the announcement of the theme, which had been kept secret for months as an ongoing tradition. Steve Harvey, played by junior Jane Carleton Gremer (‘18), had the privilege of revealing the theme to the audience via a mock episode of Family Feud. Given the choices of The Incredibles, Scooby Doo, Toy Story, or the Kardashians, Harvey finally disclosed that the theme of Brunch 2016 was, in fact, Toy Story.
After the theme was revealed, the audience followed main characters Woody, Buzz, and Andy in their quest to retrieve the senior girls’ Christmas presents from the evil Lots-O and his entourage, Plankton from Spongebob (played by junior Claire Powell), Neville from iCarly (junior Ellie Angle), and Lord Farquaad (junior Reilly Gallagher) from Shrek. The heroes chased the nefarious group through a variety of different locations, including Boyer’s, a Collegiate study room, St. Catherine’s School, and iCarly’s Groovy Smoothie. Audience members especially enjoyed the references to childhood shows that were sprinkled throughout the show. Isabella Vita (‘19) “loved how there were characters from older shows like iCarly and other Nickelodeon shows,” while Flinchum wishes “they had done more jokes about characters from other shows, like some reality shows.”
The dances were also a highlight of Brunch 2016. Choreographed to high-energy songs like Coco Jones’ “Holla at the DJ” and Little Mix’s “Salute,” the dances brought the crowd to their feet. Whether they were performed in small groups or included all the junior girls, the dances energized the entire building and left the audience in awe.
Putting on a successful Brunch is no small feat. The tradition involves months of planning, working together in various committees, and support from the Collegiate faculty. Claire Thalhimer (‘18) would “like to give a shout out to Ms. Priddy and Mr. Townsend for putting up with [her] grade because [they] would get excited easily and it was hard to calm [them] back down.” Cristina Muncy (‘17) recalls that “last year, since my grade was the one doing the play, Brunch seemed very surreal. This year it was really fun to sit back again and enjoy Brunch like I remembered from years past.”
Brunch is always filled with emotion, but it is especially impactful for junior and senior girls. Sonja Kapadia (‘18) says, “This year it was bittersweet knowing it was my last Brunch, unlike last year when it was all excitement.” Muncy’s favorite moment, although also bittersweet, was “the senior song that the junior girls sang. It made it all seem real, and it was a really emotional and memorable moment for many of us.” Hannah Feder (‘18) remembers how sleep-deprived everyone was the day of the show after staying up all night at the junior girl sleepover, but once everyone started cheering she forgot how tired she was.
Brunch is a tradition that sets Collegiate apart from other schools because of the close bond it creates between girls of different grade levels. Thalhimer says, “Brunch is something I’ve always looked forward to because it’s that special connection you get to have with the your grade and other grades, and some schools don’t get to have that.”
This Brunch was especially sentimental for me as a senior because I knew it was my last. However, as I stood with my arms wrapped around my friends, swaying along to the final senior song, my tears turned into a smile and I realized what an important tradition Brunch really is.
All photos by William Dabney unless otherwise noted.