For boarding students, the winter holidays at Milton are a time to celebrate, have fun, and bond together in the houses and as a boarding community, culminating in a boarder dinner just before break.
Each house has its own way of making the season special. “It really brightens the shortest days of the year and gives students an opportunity to give to one another,” says Millet House head Linnea Engstrom of the holiday traditions.
Wolcott boys decorated right after Thanksgiving, house head Joshua Emmott says. Tradition holds that Class IV students put up wreaths, while seniors string lights in the shape of a “W.” Perhaps not surprising to parents of teenage boys, a significant amount of food is involved in Wolcott’s celebrations.
“Before the boarder dinner we have hors d’oeuvres (sparkling cider and finger food) together, and after the dinner, there is caroling, followed by a second dinner in Wolcott, which ends with everyone in the dorm watching the original version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Joshua says. “We’ve been doing these activities for over 20 years—the pre-boarder dinner hors d’oeuvres were added eight years ago.”
Millet House girls “go all out with holiday decorations,” says Linnea. The house looks festive and gives the students something to bond over. “We celebrate things, and even if what we’re celebrating is not part of your family identity, you are welcome to take part here.”
Millet seniors run a “Secret Snowflake” gift exchange, where students anonymously give gifts to one another. The house also holds an event called Cakes for Flakes, in which groups compete in creating paper snowflakes to hang in the Millet common room. The group with the best snowflakes wins a cake. The tradition is kept in memory of Jennifer Pham ’12, a Millet House student who died in 2011. “She loved that tradition and spent a long time cutting out the most beautiful snowflakes, and it’s our way of honoring her,” Linnea says.
“There is often quite a lot of singing” when Robbins girls return from Thanksgiving and decorate their house, putting up lights and painting ornaments for their holiday tree, house head Nicole Hall says. A long-standing Robbins tradition is that each class paints a plaque to represent their class—these plaques are on display throughout the year.
Robbins’ holiday tree features ornaments representing the diversity of the house, Nicole says. She began the tradition last year in recognition that students celebrate different holidays depending on their family traditions: every student writes their favorite holiday and hangs it on the tree.
After the boarder dinner, Robbins girls have their Secret Snowflake exchange. Since John and Erica Banderob were house heads, this event has been celebrated with brie, cream puffs, and sparkling cider or grape juice, Nicole explains. She has been keeping the tradition, adding “a large cheese plate and other yummy treats.”
Boys’ varsity soccer had an exciting and standout season. The team was undefeated in the ISLs (12-0-3), clinching the ISL championship title in the game against Noble and Greenough, another undefeated ISL team that came into the match with a one-point advantage in the standings.
“Winning that game was the most incredible experience of my time here,” says David Walley ’20. “In those last five minutes of the game, we were tied and I felt it was going to be like other years, with us coming in second, every time.” But in the last minute of the game, Aidan Farwell ’21 scored the winning goal and the home crowd was exuberant.
The beginning of the season (overall record 13-2-3) started off a bit sluggish for the team.
We had high expectations at the beginning of the year,” says Noah Jackson ’20. “We thought winning would just come to us. But a couple of early losses opened our eyes. We had a team meeting about expectations versus reality. We changed our approach to focusing one game at a time and then went on to be undefeated in the next 15 games or so.”
Head Coach Chris Kane said boys’ varsity soccer has consistently been a strong program over the years, “but this group very much had to prove something for themselves on their own terms.”
“They significantly improved from the start of the season to the end of the season,” says Coach Kane. “They knew they were talented, but thought early on that talent would be enough. So we worked on how talent is not the primary ingredient. We worked on how to embody values and qualities we thought we needed to develop. We talked about complete and consistent efforts. And being focused and consistent on whatever we were doing whether it was a weight room workout, a two-hour field training or a game. They used their hunger to do the work to improve.”
The team was seeded fifth for postseason play in the NEPSAC Boys’ Soccer Championship Class A and traveled to Connecticut for the first round where they beat the Taft School 3-1. In the semifinals, they traveled to Northfield Mount Hermon where they won 2-0. The final game was back in Connecticut against Worcester Academy. The game was tied 1-1 after regulation play so the winner was based on penalty kicks, with Worcester Academy coming out on top.
“We played the toughest games we could possibly play, all on the road, and just met the challenge of each of those moments,” says Coach Kane. “At each step, they played better and with more belief. To be close and not to win is tough, but it wasn’t like they felt like they did not rise to the moment, they stepped up and played incredibly well. They did it with class. They did it with toughness. They responded with a lot of resilience, and togetherness and support from one another, which was great.”
Milton’s speech and debate team members had a successful showing against 36 area schools at the MSDL Lincoln Sudbury annual tournament this past Saturday. Honors awarded to our Mustangs included:
Special Trophy for Most Accumulated Points by Novice PF teams: Milton Academy
1st Place: Tim Colledge and Tony Wang (Varsity Public Forum)
8th Place: Lorenzo D’Simone and Yaman Habip (Novice PF)
5th Place: John Yildirim (Novice PF speaker award)
2nd Place: Tim Colledge (Varsity PF speaker award)
1st Place: Toni Wang (Varsity PF speaker award)
4th Place: Jack Burton (Dramatic Performance)
1st Place: Talia Sherman and Jack Burton (Duo Interpretation)
2nd Place: Neha Modak (Extemp)
4th Place: Elliot Smith (Extemp)
3rd Place: John Kulow (Informative)
4th Place: Nyla Sams (Informative)
6th Place: Jana Amin (Informative)
3rd Place: Jana Amin (Original Oratory)
4th Place: Miranda Paiz (Prose)
The varsity football team dominated on the field with an undefeated ISL season (6-0) clinching the title after a 48-25 win against Belmont Hill, a team that also came into the game undefeated. The home game in front of a Parents’ Weekend crowd showed the deep depth of Milton, led by team captains Kalel Mullings ‘20 and Jake Willcox ‘20.
That victory led to an invite to the post-season Mike Silipo NEPSAC Bowl to face off against Deerfield Academy. Despite the home field advantage, it was a tough 26-23 loss for the Mustangs.
Jake and Kalel provided great leadership all season, Coach Kevin MacDonald said. Kalel was selected to play in the All American Bowl game in January. The players also used their grief over the unexpected passing of offensive line coach Paul Healey as inspiration for winning this season. Coach Healey had coached with Coach Mac for 28 years.
Every holiday season, the best teams in independent school hockey descend upon the rinks of Milton and Nobles for a chance to claim the coveted championship titles of the Flood-Marr Tournament and the Harrington Invitational Tournament.
The annual Flood-Marr Holiday Hockey Tournament is named for Dick “Lefty” Marr and his college roommate, longtime friend and rival hockey coach Dick Flood. Lefty Marr was a member of the Milton faculty from 1957 until 1980. Now in its 55th year, the three-day competition for boys’ teams includes Milton, Nobles, Hotchkiss, Andover, Westminster, Deerfield, Kimball Union and Salisbury.
On the same weekend, the top girls’ talent takes to the ice at Milton and Nobles to compete in the 39th Annual Harrington Invitational. Milton will face off against Nobles, Lawrence, St. Paul’s, St. Mark’s, BB&N, Westminster, and Williston-Northampton.
The tournaments run from Friday, December 20, through Sunday, December 22.
Centre Connection, Milton's online newsletter for parents, is published five times each year through the efforts of the Milton Academy Communication Office and Parents' Association volunteers.