Concert Band, Lessons and Carols, and FINALS!

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and are enjoying this season of Advent. Here on the Hill we’ve had two weeks of class and we’re now in finals period. But I also want to talk about the Concert Band concert, Lessons and Carols and the snow!

First up is the Concert Band concert, which we had on Dec. 3. It was a great first concert and I’m excited for second semester (highlights from next semester’s program include Give Us This Day by David Maslanka). Even Fr. Boroughs came!

The reason I delayed my usual alternating-Wednesdays blogging schedule is because I wanted to talk about Lessons and Carols, which took place this past Thursday. It is a tradition dating back to King’s College in the UK in 1918, and one Holy Cross adopted in 1978. There are nine Biblical readings and each is followed by a responsory song or anthem. As part of the Chamber Orchestra, I was able to participate musically, working with the Concert Choir and both student organists on campus. It was really neat to play in (full!) St. Joseph’s Chapel, where the acoustics are amazing. To make the evening extra special, Kimball Dining Hall had its annual Christmas dinner the same night! If you missed Lessons and Carols–don’t worry! The event was livestreamed and  published on YouTube.

This is a picture my mom took of St. Joseph’s Chapel decorated for Lessons and Carols.

Click for a video of “O Come All Ye Faithful” my mom took at Lessons and Carols!

After a SUPER busy two weeks of classes (my busiest so far, which is saying a lot), Holy Cross is now officially in “finals mode.” Final exams take a week, and as soon as you are done you get to go home for Christmas break. Monday is a study day, where professors hold review sessions and Dinand Library is sure to be packed; the exams themselves take place between Tuesday and Saturday. In college, depending on the class, final exams can be a fairly big portion of your overall grade for a class, so students will do everything they can to make sure they do well! I only have three exams, since my Montserrat final was a paper followed by a presentation and defense in class, but I still have a lot of studying to do!

Also, if you thought Holy Cross was enthusiastic in general, you should see us at Christmas! Each dorm is decorated to the nines (my hyper-festive roommate wrapped our door in early November) and we just had our first snow last night. Friends are exchanging gifts, Elf is being streamed constantly during study breaks, the bookstore had its annual 20% off sale last week, and the Office of Student Involvement offered free gift wrapping for students–Christmas is definitely here!

Wheeler Hall during the snow (taken by my friend Emma!)

Check back in soon to see if I survive final exams and prepare for Christmas! Happy studying!




Pep Band, Enrollment, and John Mackey!

Hi everyone! I hope you are all home safe for Thanksgiving and ready to celebrate tomorrow! We finished classes yesterday and I came home last night for the first time since October break. But besides preparing for my favorite holiday, during the past two weeks I played in pep band for the first time, met John Mackey, and enrolled for next semester!

Last Saturday I played for Holy Cross Pep Band for the first time! We played for the men’s hockey team vs Air Force and it was really neat to play a new role at the games, since I go to most of them anyway. Pep band traditionally plays the National Anthem as well as every third whistle during the game, and it is a great opportunity to play more well-known songs (like “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana) than our Concert Band repertoire. It was a great experience and I am looking forward to the rest of the hockey and basketball games!

In other music news, this past Friday the one and only John Mackey came to campus as Concert Band’s guest clinician for the semester. We are playing one of his pieces, “Foundry” for our upcoming concert and it was really neat to meet with him and receive his input. For context, bands around the country, from middle schools to conservatories, play his music (even one group at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!) and he is widely known in the wind ensemble community. I played his music throughout high school, so it was really neat to see him in person!

Additionally, even though it feels like I just moved in, last Monday I enrolled for my second semester classes. I will be taking political science, history, music theory 2 (for the major) and I will continue with my Montserrat. For whatever reason–probably to make you question taking 8AMs–enrollment takes place at 7 AM on a Monday, so inter-house council provided a lovely post-enrollment breakfast for first-year students.

That’s all for now! Be sure to check back in for some post-Thanksgiving updates as I brave the two weeks of class heading into finals. Happy Thanksgiving!

Family Weekend, Boston, and Samantha Power!

Hi everyone! I just wanted to check in and talk about my (surprisingly exciting) last two weeks, including Family Weekend, my trip to see a Bruins game, and Samantha Power!


The weekend before Halloween was Family Weekend here at Holy Cross. Friday night was Casino Night, sponsored by Purple Key Society, a fun Halloween event for families and students. There was games, fun prizes, and live music–featuring a student band, SCONE–overall a great start to the weekend!

Click to see a short video of SCONE performing at Casino Night!

On Saturday, my parents, two sisters, and my aunt came up to visit from my hometown in Cohasset. We went to my orchestra concert, in which I survived playing bass clarinet for the first time, and then caught the end of the football game to see Holy Cross beat Georgetown 24-10. Then we all went out to dinner at Sole Proprietor, a really nice “parents-taking-you-to-dinner” restaurant in Worcester. Overall it was really fun and both my family and I enjoyed it.


Last weekend I went into Boston for the first time from campus with my roommate Elena and our friend Emma. Elena is a HUGE Caps fan, so we went to see the Caps play the Bruins as a late birthday present. We rode the (free!) Holy Cross shuttle to Boston, which is offered every weekend, and took the commuter rail to Union Station on the way back. None of us had been to Boston from Worcester before, and we were all surprised at how easy it was! We had a great time exploring the city and at the game, even though some people gave Emma questionable looks for wearing a Flyers jersey.

Myself, Elena and Emma at the Bruins game!








Last Thursday was the annual Hanify-Howland Lecture, when the College, in conjunction with the Hanify and Howland families, bring a speaker devoted to public service to campus. This year, the speaker was Samantha Power, the ambassador to the United Nations during the Obama administration,  She is a strong advocate for human rights and was often the only person representing those interests in the Situation Room with Obama. Although the event was mandatory for my Montserrat, I would have gone anyway because her talk was so interesting and engaging!

Thanks for checking in! Stay tuned for more updates over Thanksgiving about my first pep band game, meeting John Mackey for concert band, and whatever other surprises I may find on the Hill!

Back on Campus: Montserrat, Hockey Games, and Jazz Concerts!

Hi everyone! I’m back on the Hill after a quick (but much needed) fall break. This past week was super busy academically, because I had a music theory exam Thursday and a big Montserrat paper due Saturday, but I still managed to do some fun things besides staking out my cube in Dinand Library.

Some quick background: I take four classes here at Holy Cross–Music Theory, Calculus 1, a first-year English course, and my Montserrat, which is philosophy based. My schedule in college is a lot less restricted than in high school, but that means I have to budget my time well during the day when I’m not in class, so I have time for other fun things (as described below)!

On Tuesday I had a mandatory Montserrat event, which was a dance performance called Les Nuits Barbares. It explored the legacy of European colonialism in Africa through dance and music and it was actually really interesting. Although, I must say, I was glad we had a pre-concert talk with the choreographer, because otherwise I would have been pretty confused!

On Friday, my roommate Elena and I went to the first men’s hockey game of the season on Friday night against Bentley. It was a great game to watch and Holy Cross won 4-3 in overtime! Go men’s hockey!

This is my friend Jacob on the ice at the intermission between the first and second periods trying to score a goal to win a prize. He didn’t score any goals, but they gave him the prize (some cool HC gear) anyway.

After the hockey game we went down to Crossroads to see the comedian sponsored by CAB (Campus Activities Board). I had never seen stand-up comedy live before so it was a really neat experience and the comedian, Sam Comroe, was super funny.

Last night, my friends and I went to see Mike Monaghan, the jazz band director, and some of his colleagues play a free concert in Brooks Music Hall. For some celebrity context, three of the five people who played (including Mr. Monaghan) are playing at the Boston Pops in Symphony Hall on Tuesday! It was really cool to be in such an intimate setting with some very accomplished musicians–and they took requests!

Looking forward, this coming weekend is Parent’s Weekend. I’ll be playing bass clarinet (for the first time!) in the orchestra concert on Saturday at 1PM, so if you’re on campus check us out! In the meantime, have a great couple of weeks and check back soon to see what happens on the Hill!

5 Best Things About My First 5 Weeks at Holy Cross

Hi everyone! My name is Elizabeth Griffin and I’m so excited to share my first-year experience with you all. I’m currently home for fall break (and really missing college) so I’m going to share the 5 best moments I’ve experienced at Holy Cross so far.

  1. Signing up for the ESCAPE retreat was one of the best decisions I made coming into my first year.  It’s a 24-hour retreat for first-year students at the new (and really nice!) Joyce Contemplative Center. It was a great opportunity to get off campus for a bit and meet a lot of cool new people, many of whom have become my best friends.
  2. Two weekends ago was the homecoming football game! I met up with one of my friends from Escape and her sister, who is an alum, at the tailgate and made a lot of friends at the game. We had a great time together, even though it was rainy and cold. In Worcester, you have to learn to have fun no matter what the weather is!
  3. Meeting Rodrigo Hasbún. One of the most interesting parts of my Holy Cross experience so far was reading a book in my English class and then having the opportunity to meet the author in person and ask him questions when he came to campus. It was a really neat experience that I had never had before!
  4. Nativity. My favorite part of the week is definitely when I go to my SPUD (Student Programs for Urban Development) site at the Nativity School in Worcester. I love working with my student one-on-one each week and it is a great way to get my mind off all of the other things I have going on and focus on helping him!
  5. One of my most recent memories was my team’s first win in intramural soccer! (see picture below) We had suffered some tough losses before, but somehow we managed a win 4-3! As is custom, we celebrated with ice cream in Hogan right after! 


I hope you enjoyed this week’s post! Check back in soon for more updates when I’m back on the Hill!