Even though it occurs in the darkest, coldest time of year, Christmas can bring joy and warmth to everyone who celebrates it. There are endless traditions that come with this holiday, but one of the most well-known and common traditions is decorating with Christmas lights and other festive decorations. Math department chair Ashley Brothers has helped to bring this custom to McNicholas.
“It started three years ago when I was involved in Spirit Club,” Brothers said. “We were looking for something to do for Christmas. I had a student at the time… and every year he does a light show display. He was talking about it and sharing it with the class, so I drove by one night and thought, ‘This is really amazing. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do it here?’ So he started teaching me the ins and outs, and I decided to go for it and try it at McNick.”
Brothers had help from other teachers and staff members. “Mr. Dalton was a big resource because he does a light show at his house as well, so he helped me order some of the supplies,” Brothers said.
“I had to write up a proposal to Mr. Mueller to get it approved and to get some funding for it, because we had to go out and buy a lot of Christmas lights, and the boxes that kind of run the show. He gave me a budget, and I was able to go out and buy all of the supplies,” Brothers continued. Community members also made donations of old Christmas decorations to help get the project off the ground.
“Only adults are allowed on the Convent roof, so when we have to do the Convent, I have to go and hang off the edge of the Convent patio, and I’m afraid of heights… but I’ve gotten better at it. I’m a little less queasy when I look over the edge,” Brothers said.
Student volunteers helped in putting up the decorations.
“We found and sorted the lights, and put them on the bushes. We plugged them in and made sure everything worked. We also hung some lights in the trees,” freshman Remington Holder said.
My favorite part was having an excuse to hang out with my friends and fellow McNick students and chat while we worked,” senior Zach Miller said. “I helped set up the Christmas tree shapes that go up the pillars of the convent, and I hoisted up wreaths to go above them as well.”
In years past, the weather has affected how many decorations the students and teachers were able to put up. “Last year, I was not able to get as many students to volunteer, mostly because the weather was pretty bad,” Brothers said. “This year, there were a lot of excuses not to do things, but I think if there’s a time to need holiday cheer, this is the time we need it, so I really made it a priority this year. Fortunately, the weather was pretty cooperative, and we had a lot of students who were interested in participating and helping out too, so we got it done and it looks great.”
Not everything ran smoothly while putting up the lights, however.
“We’ve had blown fuses, outlet boxes that are on timers that don’t work…Once, I went to plug in the lights and the outlet was closed, as it was no longer up to code. But I will say that after doing it for a couple years, I’ve gotten it down to where I’m blowing less fuses and am able to troubleshoot it a little better,” Brothers said.
“The only issue I’ve faced is when people can’t agree on what design to put up, that’s always interesting to watch play out. I’ve done this every year, and I just enjoy hanging out with the people who do it too,” senior Katia Roetenberger said.
Sometimes, the decorations broke and needed to be replaced. “Replacing the lights was the main stress of this year and what took me longer than anything,” Brothers said. “Last year a lot of the light bulbs got ripped out, so I was literally going light bulb by light bulb because I don’t have a budget anymore.”
However, Brothers said that the final result was worth the hard work involved. “I hope that it brings a bit of holiday cheer in a year where there are so many negatives,” Brothers said. “It’s nice to look at the positives, too.”