Big Sisters/Little Sisters
Each incoming Freshman is paired with a Junior who will serve as her Big Sister to help her make the transition to high school and to introduce her to Preston High School’s customs, culture and community. This long-standing tradition is celebrated in the class parties that are held in late September. At these parties, organized by the Student Council, Freshman and Junior sisters eat, dance and play together in the gym, while Sophomore and Senior sisters party together on the porch and south lawn.
A relatively new tradition, this is a fun-filled evening for students, families and friends. Talented students from all four years audition for slots in our annual musical talent show. Faculty play the role of judges, offering positive, supportive performance critiques. The audience members cast their votes for finalists and the ultimate Idol herself. Guest performers include previous Idol winners and other talented students and faculty. This is a great evening of fun and entertainment for all!
In November, PHS daughters celebrate the Special Gentlemen in their lives—Fathers, Step-Fathers, Grandfathers, Uncles; whoever serves as the father-figure for them—with a special dinner dance. It’s an opportunity to honor this important bond in a special way. In addition to a catered dinner, dads and daughters can dance to music that spans the generations. A highlight of the evening occurs when one Senior and her escort are chosen as King and Princess and lead off a special dance that other Seniors and their dads soon join in.
Sophomore/Junior Christmas Social
In early December, members of the Sophomore and Junior classes plan a semi-formal dance, held on campus, around a Christmas or winter theme. The gym is nicely decorated according to the chosen theme, music is provided by a DJ, and a buffet is provided. Souvenir photos are also made available. All 10th and 11th graders are encouraged to participate, with or without a date.
Just before Christmas, the first big graduation-related event takes place. The Senior Luncheon, held at the nearby Marina del Rey party center and chaperoned by the Senior Homeroom Mentors, provides an opportunity for the soon-to-be-graduates to gather together and celebrate the beginning-of-the-end of their time at PHS. After a buffet-style lunch, the DJ cranks up the music and the Seniors crowd the dance floor because “girls just wanna have fun!”
Every January, just before semester exams, PHS students let off steam by throwing a giant all-night pajama party, known as The Lock-In. This event, run by the Student Council, includes a talent show, games, movies and makeovers. A DJ provides music for dancing. And food, ranging from salads and sandwiches to late-night pizza to early morning breakfast, with plenty of snacks in between, is provided. The party is chaperoned by faculty, staff and parents.
Come February, PHS students join their mothers, sisters and even grandmothers for a lovely brunch with music, dancing, games and a raffle. This is a time-honored tradition that celebrates girl power and the close bond between these young ladies and the important women in their lives.
Junior Ring Night
The tradition of Junior Ring Night goes back to the early years of PHS’s existence. The ceremony is both solemn and fun, uniting the class with the long line of Prestonites who have proudly worn their school rings and providing official recognition of the Juniors as upperclasswomen and the rising leaders of the school. Each year the class chooses a theme and the music for the ceremony and works with their homeroom mentors to decorate the auditorium appropriately. Many students have important roles to play in the ceremony itself, which is held in the evening so that family members can attend. Afterwards, a reception is held in the cafeteria, hosted by the Freshman Little Sisters and their mentors.
In June, on the last day of classes, everyone gathers for a school-wide celebration. Each class decides on a color combination that will represent them and students “dress down” wearing those colors. Faces are painted as well. Each class competes to out-dance, out-cheer and out-shout the others in a pep rally that celebrates their “stepping up” from freshmen to sophomores, sophomores to juniors, and juniors to seniors.
The long-anticipated Senior Prom takes place near the end of May. Seniors are encouraged to attend this special evening, with or without a date. It is held off-campus at a special event venue. In recent years, the Prom has been at Lake Isle in Eastchester or at Beckwith Pointe in New Rochelle. The evening includes a reception, dinner and dancing. A professional photographer is present to take formal portraits of attendees as a memento of the evening and a professional videographer records the affair and creates a wonderful “highlights” DVD that includes all who attend. Senior Mentors and administrators serve as chaperones. Every effort is made to keep this special event affordable.
Senior Class Night
On the Tuesday before graduation, seniors are invited to an informal dinner on-campus to relax, chat with their friends, watch the Prom video, and receive their yearbooks. Seniors are also formally inducted into Preston’s Alumnae Association on this occasion.
In keeping with Preston’s Catholic tradition, all seniors attend a solemn liturgy, the Baccalaureate Mass, on the Thursday before graduation. This is held at our local parish, St. Frances de Chantal Church, with all the graduates in their academic robes and their families in attendance. Seniors work under the guidance of members of the Religion Department to take on many roles in the liturgy, including serving as lectors, petitioners, singers and musicians. They also pay tribute to their families, whose support has played a key role in their successful completion of high school. Following the Mass, all are invited back to Preston for a reception.
Traditionally, our Graduation ceremony is held on the South Lawn of our campus (weather permitting) on the first Saturday in June. It is a meaningful ceremony, with faculty and staff, Board of Trustee members, Guest Speaker and graduates in academic robes. After a formal procession, class members offer a prayer and a song. The audience listens to addresses from the class Valedictorian and Salutatorian as well as an address from a guest speaker who is usually a Distinguished Alumna. Graduates are called forward to receive their diplomas and graduation awards are bestowed before the ceremony concludes with a recessional. Afterwards, the graduates quickly gather behind the main building for the traditional “tossing of the caps” into the air.
Every other year, the entire Preston community of students, faculty and staff take a day to “discover” the incredible cultural opportunities that our location in New York City, the “crossroads of the world,” affords us. At the beginning of the year, students are provided with a booklet describing the wide variety of field trips available to them and detailing the cost of each adventure. They are also provided with directions for registering online. (Trips vary in length and cost. Low cost and free options are always made available.) Discovery Day itself generally occurs in April when the weather moderates.
In alternate years, students participate in Career Days designed to acquaint them with the wide range of career opportunities available in fields as diverse as medicine, law, engineering, communications, education and business, among others. Professionals in one of these fields, many of them PHS alumnae, conduct small group panel discussions describing their particular career choices and the paths they took to get there, followed by a question-and-answer period. Students from any grade level who have indicated a particularly strong interest in the particular career field are invited to join our guests for an informal meet-and-greet reception afterwards to give them the opportunity to “network” and to learn more information.