School Traditions

Weekly Traditions

School Meeting

The Canterbury community gathers three times a week in Macguire Auditorium to celebrate individual and school-wide achievements from the week prior as well as upcoming events and games. These gatherings serve as a time to ground the School and bring together the community in collective recognition. 

Monday School Meetings are spearheaded by Associate Head of School for Student Life Peter LaVigne while Friday School Meetings are run by our Sixth Form Council. Students and faculty alike make announcements about athletic competitions, club meetings, and play rehearsals—peppered with exclamations of Happy Birthday! and remarks on individual student accomplishments. With the Sixth Form Council at the lead, Friday’s meeting often includes moments of dance, laughter, and unified silliness that have become part of the morning's routine. 

During Thursday School Meeting, students are invited to share pieces of themselves and their most tightly-held values through our weekly Saints on the Hill presentations. Through story-telling, photos, and anecdotes of lessons learned, students practice their public speaking skills in front of a school-wide audience and bring the community closer together. 

Sit-down Lunch

Tuesdays at lunch, all students and faculty share a meal together in the dining hall. Sit-down fosters community and brings together groups of students and adults that may otherwise not have the opportunity to interact during their typical weekly schedule. Sit-down tables rotate each week, pairing unique groups of students and faculty members throughout the year. It is a weekly opportunity for our School to connect and grow even deeper.

Annual Traditions

Fall Preseason

Varsity athletes return to campus a week before classes begin for fall preseason, a week of training in preparation for the athletic season. Athletes on all of the fall teams—football, field hockey, soccer, cross country, and volleyball—arrive to campus before the rest of the student body for these preparatory sessions. In addition to getting in training time, teams scrimmage with nearby competitors to get in extra playing before the regular season begins! Team bonding—such as frozen yogurt at Tasty Waves in town or hiking up to the Pinnacle in Washington, CT—are melted into the mix of weeklong activities as well as dorm nights and advisory meetings. 

Parents' Weekend

Parents’ Weekend, traditionally one of the final weekends in October, brings family and friends to campus to experience “life on the hilltop” with their students. During the two-day event, guests are able to attend classes on both Friday and Saturday as well as athletic practices, play rehearsal, dorm nights, and more. Visitors meet with their student’s teachers and also have the opportunity to conference with their student’s advisor. The weekend concludes with athletic competitions out on our fields on Saturday afternoon—a sun-soaked and spirited way to end the weekend before the classless Monday that accompanies the event!

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Spirit Week & Gunnery Day

While the competition between our School and The Gunnery has always been strong, it is now cemented even further through the Canterbury-Gunnery Cup, awarded annually to the school who wins the highest tally of total athletic competitions throughout the year. While the competition is year-long, the rivalry is particularly noticeable during the final week of our fall athletic season, dubbed Spirit Week, and the final Saturday of the regular athletic season, dubbed Gunnery Day. Each day of the week, students (and faculty!) are encouraged to dress in spirited gear, from “Twin Tuesday” to “Saints wear Friday” to get hyped for Saturday’s games. The week culminates with a pep rally and bonfire on Friday evening before Saturday morning’s games between our soccer, field hockey, and cross country teams. 

Spirit Week Photos

Gunnery Day Photos

Lessons & Carols

Lessons & Carols gathers students and faculty together to ground our community’s collective spirit before departing for the winter holiday. The event, held in The Chapel of our Lady, includes seven readings from Scripture and a variety of holiday carols in the spirit of Advent. Varsity Voices, the student a capella group, leads the community in song between each reading, oscillating between traditional Christian hymns and popularized Christmas songs. Traditionally, the evening concludes with the Hallelujah Chorus sung by the Community Choir, a group of students, faculty, and staff—and family members of students, faculty, and staff!—who spend several weeks rehearsing to lead the congregation. 

International Week

International Week showcases Canterbury’s cultural diversity and celebrates the heritage of our international students. Throughout the week at School Meeting, students are invited to share pieces of their background, whether it’s to explain their favorite family meal or display traditional dress. The event culminates with the International Student Fair on Saturday evening, one of the most anticipated (and tasty!) student events of the year. The week encourages our community to grow in our collective understanding of those around us.  

Nelson Hume Speech Competition

All students enrolled in an English course participate in the Nelson Hume Speech Competition, an opportunity for students to strengthen their oratory as well as writing skills, during the second semester. Over the course of several weeks, students work with faculty members one-on-one to determine a topic of significance and to prepare their remarks. Students then deliver their remarks to their individual classes with one student from each class selected to speak in front of the community at School Meeting. The Competition is a time-honored tradition at Canterbury for students to practice writing, editing, and effective presentational communication skills. 


The week leading up to Commencement—celebrated historically on a Friday—is the culmination of our students’ time as Saints. While our Sixth Formers are preparing to graduate, the week is an opportunity for all students to create lasting memories of their years on our hilltop. Prom is Tuesday while Wednesday brings the spring food truck and field game celebration as well as the Sixth Form tradition of painting the rock and roasting marshmallows together by the Sheehy Family Turf Field. 

Friday morning’s Commencement celebration begins with Baccalaureate Mass celebrated in The Chapel of Our Lady. The spiritual reflection is followed by a procession of faculty and soon-to-be alumni on to the Sheehan lawn and the morning’s traditional Commencement ceremony. Our graduates are reminded of their initial days on the hilltop and the memories that have shepherded them between their first and last moments as students. The final Sixth Form prizes are awarded, and the class valedictorian delivers a congratulatory and reflective address. The celebration concludes with the traditional handshake line along the back wall of Sheehan, a moment for the newly minted alumni and faculty to embrace and share a final thank you before goodbyes.

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