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Bring on the ugly (sweaters)

Eve Crandall and Lindsay Freidenrich

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Yesterday’s tacky clothing item has become today’s must-have trend: Ugly Christmas sweaters (which your grandparents probably refer to as “sweaters”) have always been around, but have made a comeback in pop culture and at WHS. In the past, these sweaters were worn unironically, but today, they’re worn in lighthearted holiday fun.
At WHS, the social studies department is using this holiday fun for a good cause. In 2015, Social Studies Teacher Mr. Enrico Basso decided to use the sweaters to raise money for the department’s scholarships. Recruiting some of the other social studies teachers, Basso organized an “ugly sweater day” for the day before winter break, in which students and teachers have the option to donate a dollar and compete in an ugly sweater contest during lunch periods.
This fundraiser brings together holiday fun, fundraising and a tribute to a beloved member of the social studies department. “It started after Thom Hornish died, and we came up with the idea to raise money and do something that he would’ve done,” Basso said. “So we decided on an ugly sweater day to raise money that ultimately goes back to the students, particularly the seniors in the form of scholarships.”
The winners of today’s contest, which are determined by levels of applause from their fellow students, will receive a $20 prize. The rest of the proceeds from the event are put toward the social studies department’s senior scholarships, which are given out at senior awards night in the spring.
Social Studies Teacher Mr. James Lane has gotten even more creative with the ugly sweater festivities. This year, to get more people involved in the fundraiser, he is allowing students to help him create an ugly sweater masterpiece. “If any students maybe don’t want to wear an ugly sweater but want to decorate mine with something ugly but school-appropriate, just donate 50 cents and I’ll add it to my sweater,” Lane said.
Lane has high hopes for today’s ugly sweater day. “The first year was pretty small; last year was a little bigger,” Lane said. “[Dr. Nelson] will be wearing one, and it always helps when your leader is involved.”
According to Basso, the future of the event looks bright. “I hope that it keeps growing in terms of it becoming a tradition before break,” Basso said. “It’s a positive thing for the school culture, as far as everybody being involved and the money going right back to the kids in the form of scholarships.”

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