Dreams of Summer Start with the Tent


Credit: Williston.com.

When the big white tent went up on the quad in early May for a month-long of important ceremonies, many students said they struggled to stay focused on school, and their minds began to drift toward summer.

“When the tent goes up, motivation goes down,” said Anabelle Farnham ‘18, a high honors student and next year’s student body president.

Even teachers said that once the tent appears (which of course coincided with warmer weather), students’ concentration begins to waver. History teacher Mr. Doubleday said, “The productivity level doesn’t really change that much when the tent goes up because the work has to get done, but the amount of complaining about the work goes way up and the effort it takes to complete the work probably increases as well.”

“If seniors weren’t suffering from ‘senioritis’ before the tent went up, they most likely have a mild case of it now,” said Doubleday.

Doubleday added that the problem doesn’t just impact students. “This certainly isn’t isolated to seniors or to students, for that matter,” Doubleday said. “I know that once I saw the tent go up, I started to get excited for summer vacation and I have a little more difficulty staying focused on school work. I think it is human nature.”

Many reunion gatherings and ceremonies are held under the tent during reunion, which took place the weekend of May 12. Physical plant set up 1,800 chairs, with the possibility of adding 200 more, if needed. They also do the lights, sound, and stage setup. Toward the end of the school year, Academic Awards and Commencement, May 27 and 28, respectively, take place under the tent as well.

The tent is up for three weeks, raised by the tent company and then maintained and decorated by Williston’s Physical Plant team. The total area is 100 feet by 150 feet. The tent costs $20,000 to rent three weeks, which includes delivery, setup, and takedown.

It will be taken down Tuesday, May 30.

These important ceremonies and the tent remind students like junior Maya Soley that summer is just around the corner. “I love the tent because it symbolizes the end of the year,” she said.

“Watching the tent go up makes me feel like graduation is approaching and the year is coming to a close,” said junior Mika Sovjani. “Mixed emotions scramble through my mind as one part of me fills with excitement for summer while the other gets sad that the seniors are graduating and I won’t be able to see my friends everyday anymore.”

Jeff Tannatt, Williston’s Director of Projects and Planning, said that the tent is crucial for all the events the school hosts at the end of the year.

“Although the work and expense of using the tent is significant,” he said, “when graduation was moved from after underclasspersons left to before assessment week, we did not have a space on campus large enough to hold the whole school and guests under cover, so the tent was the only practical option.”

If it’s a yearly expense, why doesn’t Williston buy a tent? That would come with its own host of issues. Dealing with the tent, including setup and storage, is very difficult if you do not do it all the time, Tannatt said. Factors like weather while setting up the tent and the specific temperature and light required of a storage space make it impractical for Williston to have its own.

During the time that the tent is up, the quad cannot be used for pickup and drop-off, and the traffic is instead directed to the parking lots in the chapel or the science building. Maya Soley, who can drive herself to school, said, “If I was a freshman or sophomore I would be annoyed because I would not be able to be dropped off there [the quad].”