It was great seeing people gather for a pre-Thanksgiving bonfire at Barrington High School last week.
The bonfire had been a tradition at BHS for many years, but the pandemic and then bad weather caused its cancelation the last few years. Often, traditions like this end and never return, but thanks to the inspiration and efforts of teacher Patrick Scott, the bonfire returned to school grounds.
As bonfires go, this one was impressive. It towered over the northeast corner of the school campus, with a crowd of hundreds watching in awe.
Since all things seemed to go well — no mishaps, no bad outcomes — it’s safe to assume this tradition can continue next year and for years to come. If it does, perhaps it can build off this successful first year and grow — not in size, but in meaning and purpose. A few suggestions for the future …
- Give it a theme. Pulled together the way it was, this year’s bonfire was mostly a social gathering for high school students, many of whom spilled over from the “powder puff” football game that took place immediately preceding. Given a different identity, whether it’s a school pep rally, a unity event or a true homecoming for BHS graduates of all ages, more people could identify with the theme and be compelled to join.
- Give it a cause. Anytime Barrington gathers this many people together for anything, it should consider how to create positive outcomes. Make it a food drive for local soup kitchens. Add a $5 cover charge, with proceeds to benefit the school’s Chain Reaction Club. Do something to make this more than a party; make it a party with a purpose.
- Invite everyone. This event could appeal to a wider audience. Move it beyond just a teen social hour, and make it a true community gathering. Given the right theme, cause and invitation, families, friends and residents of all ages could feel welcomed to be part of a truly unique Barrington experience.
- Involve the students. Whether this becomes a senior project, a Chain Reaction event, a drama club fund-raiser, or all of the above, there are so many possibilities for student empowerment. One club could sell hot chocolate for a cause. Another could collect food donations for a cause. Another could strategize to make this a truly inclusive event, with all students welcome and embraced. Get them started, and let student leaders build this into something purposeful and impactful.
With the right structure, support and leadership, this beautiful bonfire could grow in so many ways.