“Boola! Boola!” dozens of students in Yale T-shirts shouted as the bulldog mascot danced around them in Fair Haven School’s auditorium Friday morning.
The students don’t attend Yale — at least not yet.
They are students of the K-8 school. And they were engaged in an annual ritual aimed at gearing them to recite college fight songs as college students one day.
Only they weren’t Yale students. Close to 850 students and hundreds of parents packed Fair Haven School’s auditorium on Friday for the 9th Annual Snowball. The Snowball is a yearly event where students perform dances and recite the fight songs of ten different Connecticut colleges, including Gateway, University of New Haven, Quinnipiac, and of course, Yale. The purpose of the Snowball, according to Sharon Arnold, is to get kids excited about colleges and encourage physical activity. Students danced choreographed dances in front of a screen that played images of each school, as well as statistics about the schools, including admissions rates and size of the student body. At times the students were joined by mascots and cheerleaders.
The annual event is called the Snowball. Friday was the ninth annual edition, involving close to 850 students and hundreds of parents.
Students perform dances and recited the fight songs of ten different Connecticut colleges, including Gateway, University of New Haven, Quinnipiac, and, of course, Yale.
The purpose of the Snowball, according to gym teacher Sharon Arnold, is to get kids excited about colleges and encourage physical activity. Students performed choreographed dances in front of a screen that played images of each school, as well as statistics about the schools, including admissions rates and size of the student body. At times the students were joined by mascots and cheerleaders.
“The students look forward to this all year,” said Principal Heriberto Cordero.
Thomas Woodard, a seventh and eighth-grade social studies teacher, has been one of the hosts of the Snowball every year for eight years. He noted that Fair Haven has a large population of immigrant students; he said the Snowball helps build college awareness and community among the students, who get excited for it as soon as the school year begins. (Click here to read about the 2016 edition.)
“We welcome everybody in even if our doors are bursting at the seams,” Woodard said.
This year saw mascots including the Yale Bulldog, Central Connecticut State Blue Devil, and the Western Connecticut Colonial join students in chanting university fight songs. Between the fifth and sixth-grade dances, cheerleaders from Southern Connecticut State University joined the mascots on stage for a special musical number while Thomas Woodard quizzed the crowd on the requirements for the New Haven Promise scholarship program.
One of the other hosts, Jeff Manley, a dance teacher, said this year’s Snowball was uniquely energetic.
“It was the best one yet,” Manley said. During the event, Manley stayed in front of the stage, changing between songs and leading students in the dances. Manley chose the music for each grade’s dance based on its popularity and catchiness. He said that the songs have to be fun enough to keep hundreds of kids paying attention.
Cordero said that this year’s event featured more mascots, cheerleaders, and college representatives than prior years, and would’ve seen an even greater level of participation by the Universities had it not been postponed following a snowstorm last Friday.
Fair Haven, Cordero said, is the main recipient of refugee and immigrant students in New Haven, with about 300 students in its bilingual and newcomers programs. The bilingual program serves Spanish-speaking immigrants and refugees; the newcomers program helps students from Spanish speaking countries learn English. Cordero said that as much as half the school has gone through the two programs.