Traditions

Honor Code Signing

The honor code was initiated and written by students in 1999. During the first semester, seventh grade students sign the honor code in a special ceremony during their class meeting.  Teachers attend the ceremony to support the students as they recite the honor code in unison and individually come forward to sign their names in the Honor Code ledger. The Honor Code ledger is kept on display in the library and students' signatures remain permanently in the ledger, even after they graduate, as a testament to their oath.  Students new to Harvard-Westlake in other grades also sign the honor code in a similar ceremony during their class meetings.

Opening Day Convocations

First day of school, first period…it’s a tradition.  The Upper School convenes to formally invest the seniors in their elected positions as Prefects and the sophomore and juniors as class officers.  Seniors repeat an oath of office from President Tom Hudnut and are robed with the mantle of office by a faculty member whom they select.  Sophomore and juniors are also given an oath of office by President Tom Hudnut.

At the Middle School opening day assembly,  student senators take an oath of office and all students are welcomed by the President and Head of Middle School.

Senior Ceremony

This Ceremony began in the fall of 1933 as the Ring Ceremony at Westlake School for Girls, and continues today as the Senior Ceremony.  The beauty and dignity of the occasion reflect the formal recognition of the responsibility and leadership accepted by the seniors at the beginning of their last year at Harvard-Westlake. Class rings or school pins are presented to each senior at this ceremony. It is a very special time to honor the senior class and is a great family occasion.

Spirit Day

Spirit Day is an annual event held in the fall, usually the day before Homecoming, and is intended to unite the community and emphasize school spirit.  The day includes an all school gathering where students and faculty are highly encouraged to wear school colors and Wolverine gear to show off their school pride.  Go Wolverines!

Homecoming

Homecoming is an all-day event filled with games, food, alumni activities and athletic contests. It is organized by the Harvard-Westlake Parents’ Association in conjunction with the School and provides a fun, safe environment for students of all ages.  Complemented by a full day of sporting events, the day spans from afternoon to evening, culminating in a varsity football game under the lights.

Retreats

Every October, Middle School students join their classmates and teachers on a grade-level retreat. Seventh graders remain in the Los Angeles area, eighth graders camp near Santa Barbara or at Joshua Tree National Park, and ninth graders canoe and camp along a stretch of the Colorado River. Naturalists who work with the retreat groups teach students respect and responsibility for the environment and engage them in activities that are often challenging. With the shared experience of learning new skills and meeting personal challenges, the retreat program promotes class unity, understanding of and appreciation for the outdoors, and cultivates self-confidence and independence in our students.

Cum Laude Induction

Each May, the most accomplished scholars of the senior class are formally inducted into Harvard-Westlake’s chapter of the Cum Laude Society before an assembly of their family and friends. The Cum Laude Society has honored independent school students for academic achievement and personal integrity since its founding in 1906; both the Harvard School and the Westlake School for Girls were long-standing member schools in the Society.

Jacobson Cup

What makes this community work so well is a great deal of hard work and commonality of purpose.  But we couldn’t have that without regular installments of fun and opportunities to come together—students, faculty, and staff—and engage in some very light-hearted competition. The Middle School community is divided into four houses (named for animals that are closely related to our Wolverine mascot:  Badgers, Ferrets, Otters, and Polecats) and compete in a year-long competition for the Jacobson Cup. Activities range from trivia contests, to athletic competitions, to fundraisers. The competition culminates each May in a half-day final, multi-event competition called Field Day. Long-time former faculty member/dean Barbara Jacobson, the competition’s namesake, awards the cup at the final assembly of the year.  

Intramurals

Intramural tournaments in sports such as basketball and dodge ball have been organized in the past. This tournament style of play gives students of all ability levels the opportunity to play against other student or faculty teams.

Harvard-Westlake Fanatics

At the Upper School, the student cheering section at athletic contests is one of the loudest in town, and the Harvard-Westlake Fanatics lead that charge! Any student can be a Fanatic – all it takes is a positive attitude, a strong voice and a love for the Wolverines. Fanatics attend contests in a variety of sports. Dressed in red t-shirts and cheering loud & proud, the Fanatics always give the Wolverines a home-field advantage!

Junior Career Day

During last year's Junior Career Day, held the day before graduation, more than 150 members of the junior class traveled to more than 40 off-campus locations to spend the day with adult professionals in their chosen fields. The Office of Advancement connects student career requests with experts within Harvard-Westlake’s alumni, parent, parent of alumni, and extended communities. Usually about two thirds of juniors participate in Career Day, which is voluntary. Previous Career Day connections are as varied as marine mammal trainer, forensic scientist, music producer, a former Secretary of State, and research mathematician.

Grad Night

Grad Night is an all-night event sponsored by the Harvard-Westlake Parents’ Association. Students meet on campus after graduation and board busses for surprise locations. They are bussed around town for dinner, games, dancing and an evening of reminiscing and celebration. Arriving back on campus early the next morning students leave with great memories of a one-of-a-kind evening.

President Tom Hudnut speaking at Senior Ceremony.
President Tom Hudnut speaking at Senior Ceremony.
Crowd at football game during Homecoming
Crowd at football game during Homecoming
Two juniors working in the kitchen of a pastry chef on Junior Career Day.
Two juniors working in the kitchen of a pastry chef on Junior Career Day.
Seventh grader signing the Honor Code.
Seventh grader signing the Honor Code.
A junior and senior  prepare for a round of "sumo-wrestling" on Spirit Day.
A junior and senior prepare for a round of "sumo-wrestling" on Spirit Day.