Valentine’s Throughout Valen[time]


Printed with permission of Harvard-Westlake Archives

Harvard-Westlake student holds flowers on the Upper School quad during Valentine’s Day.

Becca Berlin

The school’s history of Valentine’s Day traditions date back to  before the merger of Harvard School for Boys and Westlake School for Girls. But in recent years, Prefect Council said they have made an effort to organize festivities that focus on romantic love less directly.

In 1997, Prefect Council organized carnation deliveries to celebrate the holiday. According to the 1997 Vox Populi yearbook, the exchange of carnations was a symbol of both love and friendship. Students could pay for the flowers to be delivered via student council members to their friends or valentines.

In the same year, The Chronicle acted as a second vehicle of Valentine’s Day deliveries, allowing students to submit short messages to their valentines and friends to be printed in the paper.

Junior Prefect Yoshimi Kimura ’23 said Valentine’s Day can be a difficult holiday to plan events for, as it presents many possibilities for exclusion.

“Creating Valentine’s Day events is to celebrate love, whether it be romantic or platonic, and [to] find activities that everyone can participate in,” Kimura said. “[Prefect Council] wants to bring spirit to campus but we also want to avoid perpetuating the false stereotype that being single on Valentine’s Day is the worst thing ever with our activities.”

Donya Ghassemieh ’23 said Valentine’s Day allows students to show appreciation for one another instead of having exclusively romantic implications.

“I think Valentine’s Day has shifted more towards friendship and expressing your love and thankfulness for your friends,” Ghassemieh said.

Carter Staggs ’23 said the decrease in the school’s more romantic Valentine’s Day festivities helps eliminate the discomfort people without a significant other may face during the holiday celebrations.

“If the school were to put more time and energy into promoting a holiday and thus creating school spirit, Valentine’s Day would not be the holiday I would recommend [that they do so for],” Staggs said. “It doesn’t feel worth the risk of ostracizing people when those resources could simply be poured into a different holiday that doesn’t come at the expense of people’s feelings.”

Senior Prefect and Prefect Council Valentine’s Day committee member Joy Ho ’22 said Prefect Council will introduce new holiday activities the week of Feb. 14 that center on community-building and celebrating non-romantic love at the school.

“Prefect Council is planning a Love Market during lunch where we will be giving out mini bundt cakes and selling little bouquets of flowers for friends or romantic partners,” Ho said. “Along with that, we are planning a Cupid’s Coffeehouse,  a Valentine’s Day coffeehouse after school with lots of yummy treats and coffee.”

Ella Goldberg ’23 said she has taken advantage of the holiday to give back to the community by organizing a Valentine’s Day card-making station on campus Wednesday and Thursday through the Bring Change to Mind club.

“There [are going to] be markers, stickers and all types of decorations to make [Valentine’s Day] cards for the frontline health care workers who are [helping to] fighting the pandemic,” Goldberg said.

Wilson Federman ’24 said he is looking forward to participating in these Valentine’s Day activities, and he said he expects holiday energy on campus to positively impact students

“Valentine’s Day treats are a fun tradition for all of the students at the school, and they can help brighten campus life, even if you don’t have a valentine,” Federman said. “I think while Valentine’s Day might be a little overhyped, it’s a nice time to cherish relationships and be with the people you love most, so I definitely enjoy the holiday.”