Highlights to Inspire: Features Section Reviews the Year

Kelly Gallagher ‘22

Chief Features Editor

As if the usual grueling exams weren’t bad enough, right? Most students are currently preoccupied with surviving finals week during quarantine, so life on campus might seem long ago. Yet we here at Features would like to take the opportunity to bring the experiences of the past year back to the front of our minds. It’s been a banner year for art and creativity at College of the Holy Cross, and these activities deserve better than to be overshadowed by the crazy events of the past few weeks.  

The creative fervor bubbling within Holy Cross’ community can’t be extinguished even by the grim reality of quarantine. In fact, art may seem more important than ever. Whether it’s being created or consumed, art allows us to transcend our daily lives or to explore them in more detail, lifting us across borders or helping us to look deep within ourselves. Quarantine might be a great time to reflect on your life – or maybe you just want to escape it for a while. Either way, art can be a great outlet. 

Granted, finals may not be the opportune time to get your creative juices flowing! In that case, we hope to bring back some uplifting memories and appreciate what the community has explored and accomplished this past year. 

The year saw great triumphs on the part of individual students who fulfilled their creative visions. Back in the fall, Joe Begg ‘21 interviewed Fenwick Scholar Matthew Pinder ‘20 on his year-long independent project, a 14 movement composition entitled Stations of the Cross. Pinder savored his creative freedom, stating that: “‘The best part of Fenwick is not having a whole bunch of deadlines…It’s an immersion experience.’” Meanwhile, under the pen name of Francis Booker, William Crowley ‘20 published his epic debut novel Stand, a YA fantasy co-authored with Michael Ragusa. Features Editor Grace Bromage ‘23 interviewed Crowley regarding his experience, where he shared that: “‘[his] Catholic faith was a huge inspiration to try to write something that would be a source of goodness and inspiration to its readers.’” Noah Mailloux ‘20 wrote and directed his play “The Secret Life of Plants,” which was enthusiastically received by audiences back in December. Equally adept at inducing laughter and tears, Mailloux’s play was a fresh, touching take on the universal themes of “familial love, loss, and reconciliation.” 

Students also achieved great things through collaboration. The Ballroom Dance Team’s “Dancing With the Stars” competition brought together team members and campus celebrities for a charity event, where community donations were awarded to the winning team’s charity of choice. Dancing in honor of The Trevor Project, Sydney Grosskopf ‘20 teamed up with Professor Isaacs to perform a show-stopping cha-cha routine to Lizzo’s “Juice,” which won the competition. “Smiles were contagious throughout, as audience members were captivated by the dancers’ skill and pure enjoyment,” as Features Editor Nicole Letendre ‘23 described the event. Holy Cross Dance Marathon also used their talent and creativity for a good cause, raising $21,000 for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation. The culmination of months of careful planning and campaigning, the night-long event brought together students from all different classes, majors, and clubs. In an interview with Features Editor Clarabel Smith ‘21, Co-Chair Kerry Shortell ‘20 marveled: “‘There’s no way to describe the love, light, and energy’” filling the air at HCDM. 

The Theatre Department’s production of “Cabaret” was a smash hit not to be forgotten soon – especially if you’re still lamenting not being able to reserve seats for a second viewing during its final sold-out performances. Features Editor Bridget Flaherty ‘21 gushed over the cast’s talent, in particular praising Cat Zachary ‘21’s performance of Sally Bowles: “Her flirtiness, confidence, and charm are just as developed and deeply explored as her anxiety, neediness, and desperation. She makes your heart soar and then shatters it to pieces within a matter of seconds.” Flaherty also reported that Daniel Desmond ‘22’s Emcee “[doled] out both the most thrilling moments of fun and the most shocking, candid, terrifying truths,” thus embodying “the essence of ‘Cabaret.’” The show’s catchy tunes and dazzling costumes sealed its success as a highlight of the semester.

Several nights in the year, students crowded Rehm Library to listen to readings from talented writers highlighted through the English Department’s Working Writers Series. At Professor Cohen and Professor de la Paz’s Working Writers reading, Maressa Park ‘22 reflected that: “I enjoyed and learned so much from this particular Working Writers Series event. Though it centered on one work of fiction and one work of allegorical nonfiction poetry, both authors shared a common theme of embracing productive discomfort to create meaningful conversation.” Park’s observation is more impactful than ever during the pandemic. 

Visiting poet Toi Derricotte is also unafraid of examining uncomfortable topics through her art. In fact, she first wanted to write poetry as a way to explore the racial categorization present in her life since childhood. Derricotte also pointed out another source of inspiration, encouraging audience members that: “‘Writing about the things you love is very important, and they can be small things, like a goldfish!’” According to Allison Carvalho ‘22, whatever Derricotte chooses to write about, she aims “to rawly express herself, vulnerabilities included.” 

Student engagement and creativity is in no danger of slowing down, as indicated by the enthusiasm surrounding the establishment of the Green Fund, a new platform for future student projects. As Raphaella Mascia ‘21 explained: “The Green Fund is a proposal put forth by students for student use AND will be run by students.” In October 2019, the student body voted to pass the fund. Beginning in the 2020-21 academic year, students can apply to the Green Fund, which will help with long-term student sustainability projects. As long as students continue to bring their great ideas to the table, the Green Fund will help turn these ideas to reality. 

As rich as these events were, they only skim the surface of activity at Holy Cross. It’s been an amazing year full of imagination and action, passion and compassion. Let’s celebrate what these qualities have thus brought to our community, and look forward to seeing how they continue to manifest.

Cover photo Courtesy of Hui Li ’21.

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