Each year when the days grow shorter and the ground is covered in snow, we take the day off from our studies and celebrate our annual Winter Carnival. This year was no different, aside from the lack of snow! Classes were canceled, and the entire school gathered in the assembly hall to begin the festivities. Beginning with the highly anticipated Academic Bowl and then moving to the slopes at Butternut, Winter Carnival is a welcomed pause in an otherwise fast-paced winter term. While taking that much-deserved break and enjoying a change of pace are important parts of the day, some would argue that the fiercely competitive Academic Bowl is the true focus.

First, a little background information on the annual IMS Maroon vs. Gray competition that includes the Academic Bowl. Upon joining IMS, each new student is assigned to either be Gray or Maroon, the two colors of the school. Once assigned to a color, you remain a Gray or Maroon for life, which has created some heated competition even among our alumni! Throughout the course of the year, we hold a variety of competitions in which the Gray and Maroon teams compete against one another. Mountain Day is the biggest and most well known, but the Academic Bowl is an important chapter in deciding the winning team each year. There are members of the Gray team who would argue that a few of their past victories are largely due to the Maroon team’s stumbles in this very event.

On Thursday, January 28, our students shuffled into the assembly hall for the typical slew of announcements. Following the usual sports recaps and reminders that Timberlands are not, in fact, part of the dress code, the lights in the assembly hall turned off. Spotlights began to sweep the crowd, and the PA system buzzed to life. It was time for the Academic Bowl! Through four rounds of intense back-and-forth trivia, neither Gray nor Maroon had a definitive lead. The cheering and jeering student body, all decked out in their given colors, certainly made it tough to discern who was winning. A series of tough trivia on sports, IMS history, world history, pop culture, and math failed to reveal a clear leader. Historically speaking, this is often the feeling from those watching the event, but one color often commands a sizeable lead regardless. This year was different. For the first time in IMS history, it was a tie. Given how tough of a rivalry it has been this year, the judges ruled that it would be left a tie, which only further pressures the teams as they head into the spring’s Track and Field Day.

Following the whirlwind of buzzers, trivia, and flashing lights that was the Academic Bowl, students grabbed their winter gear and headed to the buses. From there, we trekked to Butternut. Lunch was provided in the lodge and kids then headed out to enjoy the slopes, the tube park, and the wonderful views of the Berkshire Mountains. Whether snowboarding, skiing, or just playing board games in the lodge with friends, our students exuded positive energy throughout the day. One could see this part of the day as a smoothing over of the competitive tension from earlier. As the sun began to set, we packed up the buses and headed back to IMS to end the whirlwind that is Winter Carnival

Mountain Day, Winter Carnival, and Track and Field Day are three of the most anticipated days of the year, but why? With so many other events to look forward to, what is it about these seasonal festivals that strike such a chord with all of us? Perhaps it has something to with the timing in each season. Maybe it has something to do with the break from the daily grind. We like to think that in the end, it is the mixing of community, competition, and fun that make these days such a special part of the IMS tradition. Now, with Winter Carnival behind us, we look to the spring and Track and Field Day with an important question, “Gray or Maroon?”