By: Morgan Zinn
As many students and parents are already aware, Gilman’s annual Family Day did not take place this year in its traditional form. For the past ten years, Family Day has been an opportunity for Gilman students and their families to come together as a community and enjoy festivities and the students’ art, exhibited in the art show. Family Day usually took place in the parking lot outside of the Old Gym or, in the case of bad weather, the Finney Arena. According to Ms. Maria Tilley, Director of Parent Relations and Outreach, she and the Development Office changed the central format and concept of Family Day because “every year was getting harder and harder to meet [Family Day’s] volunteer needs.” This lack of volunteer help was largely due to conflicting sports schedules and its untimely placement on a Saturday in May. In addition to insufficient numbers of volunteers, Ms. Tilley found that “over the past four or five years, the attendance for Family Day was dwindling.”
According to Ms. Tilley, as a substitute for Family Day, the development office “tried to create a little bit of the Family Day atmosphere on [Blue and Gray Day, the day of the Gilman-McDonogh game].” This resulted in a larger turnout of Lower Schoolers and their families. Because of the increase in attendance, Ms. Tilley aims to continue the tradition of a more festive, family-friendly Blue and Gray Day even when the game is held at McDonogh.
The second, more concrete change to fill the void of Family Day was the introduction of a family movie night, which took place in late April. In addition to showing Aladdin, the ever-popular Mr. Darnell White, a member of Gilman’s custodial staff, deejayed the event on the Harris Terrace before the movie started while ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders sold chips, candy, and drinks. Also available for fun before the movie was cornhole and a photo booth. At 7:15 p.m., the crowd moved from the Harris Terrace to the Alumni Auditorium where the movie was eventually screened. Despite the success of family movie night, Ms. Tilley believes that it was geared primarily towards lower schoolers because of the movie choice, so, over the summer, Ms. Tilley and the Development Office “will be trying to think and plan how to make [family movie night] a little more accessible to the Middle and Upper School.” Next year, Ms. Tilley is also considering the idea of showing the movie outside, which is always fun if the weather permits it.
The third change to the format of Family Day was the substitution of the art show in the old gym with an art walk across all three divisions of Gilman. The former exhibited the art for just four hours compared to the ten days for which the latter exhibited the artwork. According to Mr. Karl Connolly, Chair of the Visual Arts Department, the limited space for art that the new art walk provided allowed the art instructors in the three divisions to be much more selective about the work that they chose to showcase. The Art Department was also looking to separate itself from Family Day in order to give art its time in the spotlight individually. The reception to the reformatted art exhibition has been mainly positive. According to Mr. Connolly, students and faculty enjoyed the fact that the art was open to the public for a longer amount of time. The extended length of the exhibition also allowed parents to come on their own time instead of having a very small window of four hours on a busy Saturday in May. Next year, Mr. Connolly hopes to implement maps that would show exactly where in the school certain students’ pieces will be. Since all three events have been very successful this year, Ms. Tilley and Mr. Connolly both believe that these changes will be permanent ones.