Watch: Community Celebrates End of Fall Semester

By Mark Anskis

2013 Winter Masquerade Ball - Photo by Elena Ruyter ‘14

With finals and winter break on the horizon, the Swarthmore community used the finals days of the fall semester to relax, have fun, and in one instance, scream at the top of their lungs.

Kicking off the College's semester-ending events was the annual winter formal, which took place on Sat., Dec. 7, in Sharples Dining Hall. The 2013 edition of the formal came with a new twist, as the event ­- which had been previously themed as the Yule Ball ­­- was transformed into a Winter Masquerade Ball. Students arrived in formal attire and were provided masks as they entered the door, setting the tone for a memorable evening.

Allie Emmerich of the Student Activities Office sang the praises of the student organizing committee that made the Masquerade Ball a success. "It was great to see the organizing committee re-imagine the winter formal," she says, "and transform Sharples into a winter wonderland."

The close of the semester also marked the approach of the holiday season, with different organizations hosting celebrations throughout the community. Among them was the annual Kwanzaa gathering, which took place at the Black Cultural Center. The celebration included a candle lighting ceremony, a discussion of the seven principles, a performance by the student gospel choir, and a shared meal.

On the eve of finals, Swarthmore students, faculty, and staff gathered to let loose at two very different, yet equally entertaining events.

That Wednesday, the Language Resource Center (LRC) and Information Technology Services co-hosted a Video Game Extravaganza. An assortment of modern gaming consoles and rare retro gaming systems - some dating back to the 1970s - filled the LRC, with everyone invited to play various one and two-player games.

Dave Neal, a media services specialist and the event's main organizer, says the goal was to "create a multiplayer environment for the campus to interact and unwind." According to Neal, who brought in the games for the event from his personal collection, the most popular choices were the rhythm games (Dance Dance Revolution, Taiko Drum Master, Guitar Hero), the Apple IIc computer, and NHL '94 for Sega Genesis, which people continued to play "even," he says, "with a broken B button on one of the controllers."

Pre-finals festivities concluded with the Midnight Breakfast and Primal Scream, a College tradition held the night before the start of finals. Students gathered in Sharples and were served breakfast by faculty and staff members. At the stroke of midnight, the students screamed in unison at the top of their lungs for a full 60 seconds in an attempt to vent away finals stress (Watch a video of last year's Primal Scream). 

Following the scream, students and staff remained in Sharples to chat with friends, chow down on food, and show off their singing chops (or lack thereof) with karaoke, living in the moment one last time before the start of finals.