The Holidays are Here!

As the cold fronts come in, so too does the holiday spirit!  From the dining hall to the dorm, signs of festivities can be found all over campus.


This particular decoration was in Wetherell Dining Hall

First things first, what would the holidays be without music?  On the Friday before winter break, our concert band, jazz band, acapella groups, symphony orchestra, and choral groups graced us with both wonderful renditions of classic holiday songs as well as a few new twists (see below!).  The holiday concert is held nearby in Exeter High School’s auditorium, and there are buses to take students to and from the performance.  What I really like about going is getting to see and experience this terrific event with teachers, my fellow Exonians and their families, and people from the town of Exeter.

Those performing included our Jazz Ensemble, acapella groups, Symphonia, Concert Choir, Concert Band (counterclockwise from top left), and more!

One of the many fun events hosted on campus during the holiday season is the gingerbread house competition.  Students form teams to try and make the most artistic, clever, and, don’t forget, stable gingerbread house.  The event is supported by local bakeries who provide the gingerbread and icing for each group.  The Student Activities office supplies the candy.  Grainger Auditorium in the Phelps Science Center was almost completely full with students having fun with friends, teachers, and staff while architectural masterpieces were being created, huge messes were being made, and more than a few marshmallows were being surreptitiously eaten.  My team’s plan was to set up the house structurally first and then begin with the fun part: decorating!  We dubbed our décor “business in the front, party in the back.”  The event ended with icing everywhere, a few toppled houses, and prizes going to the top three teams.

Coming from the South, I was not prepared at first for the early arrival of snow.  However, I have since learned that there is a large positive that comes with snow: epic snowball fights!  The best one, by far, happened as my three friends/teammates and I walked out of the gingerbread house-making competition.  Two of our friends were crouched and waiting with snowballs in hand.  I ducked and ran our sugary creation into Grill in the student center and returned outside to join in the fight!  We formed our teams and aimed for each other using a snow bank as a dividing line.  About half an hour and a few frozen hands later, we all went inside to warm up with big smiles on our faces!


Finally, one of the biggest holiday celebrations on campus is Secret Santa.  Most of the dorms call it “angeling.”  In some dorms (mostly boys’ dorms) it is a one-night affair, but in others (mostly girls’ dorms), it spans days.  In wonderful Hoyt Hall, we chose names out of a hat and prepared gifts to give our “mortal” to whom we would play “angel” over four days during the last week before winter break.  While staying within a chosen monetary limit, we left gifts for our mortals over the first three days, building up to our big reveal on Friday night!  I’ve found that people can get very creative: from decorated rooms to monogrammed blankets to a note from each girl in the dorm.  On the final night, everyone has one chance to guess before being told who their angel is and being given their final gift.  It is always a fun time in the dorm with all of us together, and there is always lots of laughter.

This entry was posted in The Campus by Marie Leighton McCall. Bookmark the permalink.

About Marie Leighton McCall

Hello! My name is Marie Leighton and I am a member of Exeter's Class of 2018. It is my third year at PEA and while I am far from my home in North Carolina, my wonderful dorm of Hoyt Hall has become my second home. I enjoy spending time with my classmates and friends in clubs such as Model UN, Business Club, and ESSO American Sign Language, and with my teammates on the rowing team. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at

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