The Fifth Graders’ First Brunch

by Kate Johnston

Brunch, Collegiate’s holiday tradition known for painted cars and whistle mornings, is much more than just those things visible to people unfamiliar with the event. Brunch creates a closer bond between the girls in the Middle and Upper Schools with an entertaining performance from the juniors for everyone to enjoy.  The long-time Collegiate tradition for the fifth through twelfth grade girls focuses mainly on the seniors’ last Brunch, and the juniors who put on the play for them. But the Middle School girls, especially the fifth graders, who are new to Brunch, have an entirely different perspective on the tradition.

The senior girls join the fifth through eleventh grade girls in Oates Theater.

I took a few minutes last week to visit Middle School humanities teacher Kate Cunningham’s fifth grade girls advisory to ask the girls about their first Brunch. “When I got into Oates, everyone was jumping around and screaming. I saw all the lights and decorations. It didn’t look like Oates Theater at all,” said Shepard (‘25), who, along with many of her fifth grade classmates, was overwhelmed by the energy, decorations, dancing, singing and screaming. Although many of them were told by older sisters or friends about what to expect, the fifth grade girls, including Caroline (‘25), “still did not know what to except at all.” Being the only ones in the audience that had not been to Brunch before, the girls were rightfully surprised by the energy and emotion of Brunch. Amelia (‘25) claimed, “I didn’t think there would be so much crying.”

Running through the tunnels made by each grade on the way to Oates, Catherine (‘25) was wondering “where we were going and why the juniors had so much energy.” The fifth grade was the first class to enter Oates, and they were unsure of what to do until the other grades joined them. After the rest of the classes came in, the whole theater continued to dance and sing with the blaring music and flashing lights until the fifth graders began their “Twelve Days of Christmas” performance.

One of the many traditions of Brunch is the fifth graders singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” before the play begins, complete with hand motions. Wearing white gloves and utilizing the hand motions that the older girls all remember from their own fifth grade experience, the fifth graders go on stage in front of the entire screaming audience to sing. Sadie (’25) and many other girls were nervous about forgetting the song, but after getting on stage in front of an audience of smiling, enthusiastic girls, they became just as excited. After a few minutes of continual screaming, the audience became quiet, and the fifth graders began. Elizabeth (’25) says her favorite part of Brunch was “definitely the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas.’”

Fifth graders singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with hand motions.

The fifth graders I talked to had many different “favorites” about Brunch after it was all over. Copeland (’25) “loved when they sang to the juniors at the end.” Mary’s (’25) favorite part was how “DJ Khaled would come out all over the theater at random times.” Almost all of Cunningham’s advisory agreed that they did not think the play was going to be as long as it was, but they were surprised about how easy-going it was. Elizabeth (’25) said, “At the end, my ears were ringing, but it was awesome. I am so excited for next year.”

All photos by Taylor Dabney.

About the author

Kate is a junior at Collegiate.