Senior Sweaters Display School Spirit

Photo courtesy of Ross Mortensen

Students from the Class of 2017 wore their senior sweaters to last year’s Deerfield Day.

 

Watch for sweaters with a giant ‘C’ appearing on campus. These are the distinguished senior sweaters, a longstanding Choate tradition involving exclusive apparel only to be purchased by the sixth form class. Though you’ll soon see the Class of 2018 sporting these sweaters, the history of senior sweaters has existed for much longer.

Starting at The Choate School in the 1910s, senior sweaters were known as “varsity sweaters” and given to the boys who played on a varsity team. Sweaters were an athletic honor and displayed the student’s sporting ability. Depending on the sport, they would be a navy or white crewneck knit sweater with a gold or blue C. The equivalent to this at Rosemary Hall was a white blazer with a patch of the School’s seal on the front pocket and stripes on the arm to show how many varsity teams a student participated in.

The varsity sweaters passed on from The Choate School to the new Choate Rosemary Hall and soon evolved in the later 1900s to become more complex. Choate Rosemary Hall Archivist Ms. Judy Donald said, “These sweaters were only for student athletes that had achieved six letters during their time at Choate or three varsity letters during their senior year.” The sweaters were given to these select few called the Wild Boar Award winners, but not long after, vanished as a whole. Ms. Donald said, “Varsity sweaters became cardigans with a big ‘C’ on the pocket, and then they just disappeared. Budget cuts meant that the program was eliminated.”

In 2013, the senior class took it upon themselves to revive the sweaters. Mr. Kerry Kuhn, manager of the School Store, commented, “The seniors came to us asking to have a special senior item. We used to sell sweaters with the Choate seal and class year, but they ended up preferring to wear the sweaters with the big ‘C.’” The school store now takes orders for the sweaters during the seniors’ junior spring and delivers them September or October of their senior year.

Now called “senior sweaters” instead of varsity sweaters, they have become a controversial topic for students in the sixth form. Many students complain that the sweaters are too expensive with their $119.99 price tag and dislike the look and feel of them. As Austen Rogers ’18 said, “I don’t think they’re that cute. If it were less expensive and not a cream color, I would probably be more inclined to buy it. I love the idea of a senior sweater, but not how we execute it here.” Other students simply did not even know that they existed. Caroline Donatelli ’18 said, “I’m not even sure when they sent the email asking if we wanted one. I don’t really think about them; I care more about colleges now than a senior sweater.”

Some people, however, did see an importance for these sweaters. Lauren Canna ’18, who bought a senior sweater, said, “Even if I don’t wear it now, I’ll want it when I’m older.” Several sixth formers just want it to remember their senior year at Choate. The senior sweaters now are hand-knitted and made with a “soft-hand.” They come in a cream color with a large, navy C on the front. The sweaters are offered in 100% fine worsted wool, the reason for the sweaters’ high price tags.

Mirialie De Jesus ’18 did not buy a senior sweater. She commented, “I know that you can technically use the Beyond The Classroom Fund for it, but I don’t feel like I wanted it that much to use a fund that’s for students who want to go on things like community service trips. I didn’t want to give in to the ridiculous price.”

Love them or hate them, senior sweaters have been around for decades of Choate Rosemary Hall’s history. Evolving from an athletic item to a sixth form memento, these sweaters have gradually progressed into the product sold today. Even though some students disagree with getting one or simply did not have the time to order one, the sweaters continue to be sold yearly at the School Store due to a continued demand by many other sixth formers.

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