Thayer Traditions

Befitting a school founded in 1877, Thayer Academy has quite a number of cherished traditions and events - both expected (Commencement exercises, Homecoming, Reunion) and unexpected (pumpkin drop and Winter Wars). But behind these annually recurring events is a central theme that comes up time and again with Thayer: here you’ll find a collaborative and affirming community, where students spur one another to achieve and accomplish their personal best. Following is a sampling of traditions that make Thayer unique and that students, faculty, families and alumni look forward to year after year:

Camp Bournedale

Before the start of their freshman year, the entire class journeys to Plymouth’s Camp Bournedale for a two-day retreat, where students get to know each other and start forming the bonds of friendship that often extend for a lifetime. Team-building challenges and problem-solving scenarios begin the process of teaching students how to communicate clearly, trust one another, and work as a group. Finally, time for reflection on the upcoming four years is set aside, culminating in a letter that is written and sealed until Senior Experience, three years later. It's an unforgettable bonding experience that students cherish and remember long after their four years in the Upper School have come and gone.

Senior Experience

Bookending the four year journey at the Academy, seniors get together for a day to bond before the start of their final year at Thayer. It is at this time that the letters written to themselves as freshmen at Camp Bournedale are opened and re-read, and students see how far they’ve come and how much has changed.


The opening annual rite of the new academic year, beginning with all Middle and Upper School students assembled on the main lawn in front of the Main Building’s Tower to hear Headmaster Koskores’s opening address, along with a speech by the Upper School Community Council President. Finally, after a singing of Thayer’s alma mater, the school year is officially underway and classes begin!

Monday Morning Meetings

Almost every Monday during the school year, Upper School Students gather for Morning Meeting in the Hale Theater in the Center for the Arts. This time is an opportunity for learning via student or alumni presentations, community service and social issue awareness, previews of performances or plays; and times of fun and laughter (Halloween costume contests, faculty talent show). These meetings used to be called Chapel and have their origins from when the first two headmasters were Protestant ministers and held short daily religious services called Chapel. In the 1990s, Chapel came to be called Monday Morning Meeting and was held only once a week. At the end of each school year, Upper School students attend an awards ceremony that is still called Last Chapel.


The traditional fall celebration, where the entire Thayer community, family, and friends come to campus to enjoy festive activities, view various athletic contests (Middle and Upper School), and enjoy food and fun!

Pumpkin Drop

What started out as a recreation of Galileo's 1589 hypothesis that two objects, one light and one heavy, when dropped from the top of a tower will fall at the same rate- has turned into a full-fledged fall tradition, as multiple pumpkins are dropped from the top of Thayer’s iconic tower by students, with measurements recorded and observations made. (See sidebar for video.)

Grandparents' & Special Friends' Day (MS)

For 6th graders - Grandparents or a “Grand Friend” are invited to visit the Middle School

Diversity Day (MS & US)

Every year, both the Middle and Upper School celebrates separate Diversity Day assemblies, where students watch presentations, observe cultural dances and performances, and learn and appreciate the diversity within the student body.

Career Day

Every other year alumni and current parents take part in Career Day and share the stories of their careers. The visitors present to upperclassmen and answer questions on how they got where they are today and the ups and downs of their chosen profession. Thayer juniors and seniors get the inside scoop on careers in fields such as education, marketing, business, the performing arts, and government—among many others.

Click here to see the 2017 Career Day program.

Valicenti Cup

The last boys’ varsity hockey game of the season, which is traditionally played against St. Sebastian’s. The cup is named after former Athletic Director & coach, Arthur Valicenti ’51, P ’75, ’75, ’77.

Declamation Celebration (MS)

For the Declamation Celebration, Middle School students select, memorize, and orally present a published work. The finalists perform in Thompson Hall for an audience of faculty, students, and parents.

Winter Wars

An annual tradition at Thayer, and one that students look forward to every February. A week of wacky events, physical challenges, and a food drive. Which class will reign supreme this year?

Founders Day

Founders Day celebrates Thayer Academy’s founder, Sylvanus Thayer. Middle School and Upper School students come together in the Alumni Gym for a presentation by a school speaker. In the past, students have composed and read Founders Day Odes.

West Point Trip

Since 2005, every spring, eighth grade students journey to the United States Military Academy at West Point in upstate New York to learn about the intertwined histories of Thayer and West Point, and the grand legacy of Sylvanus Thayer.

Spree Day

A couple of hours of fun outside, just for Middle School students. Includes a cookout for lunch.

St Coletta's Day (MS)

A community service event where Middle School students participate in organized activities with disabled students from the Cardinal Cushing School.

Memorial Day Chapel

On the Friday before Memorial Day students convene outside (weather permitting) to honor alumni who have served in the military. The names of the Academy Alumni military veterans who perished in time of war are read aloud and the Tower bell is rung.

Senior Projects

The Senior Project provides seniors with an opportunity to design and take charge of a significant step in their own educational experience. Thayer challenges seniors to accept and responsibly utilize this freedom to explore their ideas in depth; or to identify a societal problem toward which they might make an individual and creative contribution; and to create a bridge between the classroom and the world outside, putting some of what they've learned at Thayer into more practical and active use. The month-long program gives students opportunities to investigate potential careers, to do research in a special area of interest, and perhaps most importantly, to render a service to the community.

End of Year

  • Recognition Day (MS): An end-of-year event for Middle School students. Eighth grade students receive promotion certificates, and some students are recognized for academic accomplishments with special awards. Parents are invited.
  • Last Chapel: A year-end ceremony to recognize Upper School students for outstanding achievements. Parents are invited.
  • Last Hurrah!: The name given to the traditional class dinner held to celebrate the senior class before they graduate. Faculty and parents are invited to attend.
  • Commencement: Graduation Day at Thayer Academy - typically held on the expansive green main lawn in front of Main Building. Students wear suits and white dresses and are celebrated for their accomplishments and given a final inspirational message from a distinguished member of the community (often an alumni of Thayer or a faculty member) before they go out into the world to rise to honorable achievement and contribute to the common good.

"My favorite Thayer tradition is definitely Winter Wars. Our class formed really close connections when we came together to beat the other classes. I got so fired up for it-- it's a blast." - Jessica Dyroff '16