Mercersburg Traditions: In With the Old?

Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Students participate in the tradition of Step Songs during the pandemic.

Being a second-year student at Mercersburg Academy, I have only ever known this school through Zoom camera lenses and half-covered faces. I have two older siblings who attended Mercersburg before the global pandemic, but their experiences would prove pointless for me when on a Monday night, I would grab dinner to go as opposed to experiencing the famous Mercersburg tradition of a sit-down, family-style dinner. Despite the changes, I have been extremely content with the socially distanced Halloween activities and other COVID-altered events that I experienced last year during my first year on campus. Like many other incoming students, after seeing pictures and hearing older teachers and students reminisce about Mercersburg before the pandemic, I understood one thing: we want to be there.

As Kellian Sisovic ’23 says, “Irving-Marshall Week is something everyone here hypes up quite often; I want to see it.”   

This new academic year has brought about possibilities of a semi-normal year with about 97 percent of our school community being vaccinated. We are hoping to restore old traditions, possibly even adding on a few more. Culture clinics took place the first week of school, and with about 85 percent of the school only knowing Mercersburg in the COVID-19 era, we were more than excited to be given a crash course on everything involving Mercersburg’s traditions, from the big things such as Irving-Marshall Week to the little things that go unnoticed like holding the door for someone else (not even a global pandemic can stop the Mercersburg community from doing this). 

I was able to talk to students just like me and understand what was going on inside the heads of like-minded, yet different individuals whom you would find all around the campus. When talking about the existing Mercersburg traditions, Katie Himes ’23 tells me, “When you walk around campus and witness students and teachers saying ‘hi’ as they pass, you feel welcomed by the amazing community we have. When you can witness Convocation or Declamation, you can feel the sense of community and impact that this school has on every student who attends Mercersburg.” 

We are ready for our Mercersburg experience, an experience that the past 128 years could not have predicted, and though I have never seen Declamation in the Simon Theatre and will never experience Convocation in the Irvine Memorial Chapel, I am proud to say that I am an integral part of the evolving traditions here at Mercersburg and that the global pandemic has served to emphasize the love and sheer resilience that the people here at Mercersburg have. 

I am grateful for my Mercersburg experience, and though it has not been like the images my siblings painted in my head, the feeling they described was magical, and I already know that this magic has not, for one second, been changed by the global pandemic. The simple waves and genuine smiles (you can sense these smiles even with our masks on) make me feel the togetherness that even social distancing can not prevent. The new traditions I have made myself, be it Chapel picnics with my advisory group or watching Zoom school meetings with friends, are now a part of my Mercersburg. I think I speak for everyone when I say I am more than excited to be a part of what makes up Mercersburg’s traditions and that when future students of Mercersburg feel dim, they will remember the perseverance and preservation of the very thing that makes Mercersburg not just a school, but a forever home: tradition.

Editor's note: Bube Osaji ’22 is one of two student interns in Mercersburg’s Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications for fall 2021. She is from Lagos, Nigeria, and her sisters, Dikachi Osaji ’14 and Gozor Osaji ’17, are alumni.