UHS Staff Members’ Holidays

Mrs. Lewis decorates the library with creative holiday decorations.

Nicole Chen, Staff Writer

The year is coming to a close yet again and with the flurry of activity in the last sprint of school before winter break, it can be hard to embrace the holiday spirit and take a proper look at one’s surroundings. However, in large part due to the revival of the holiday season this year, many teachers and staff have been trying to make the most out of the return to normalcy and maintain the holiday cheer in their classrooms. 

This winter, many people’s holiday plans have benefitted from the waning risk of COVID-19, allowing for long awaited reunions and trips. 

“My holiday plans include hanging out with my college friends,” English teacher Ms. Hannah Lee said.  “I haven’t seen them in three years since I graduated.” 

Likewise, AP Biology and Marine Biology teacher Mr. David Knight shared similar plans of reuniting with loved ones. 

“Both of my adult kids will be home for the first time in two years so my wife and I are very excited about that,” he said. “We plan to hang out, maybe take a day trip someplace, [and] go wine tasting!”

Other staff members’ plans haven’t changed, as they continue with their yearly traditions. 

“I think we’re going to spend a couple of days in Big Bear hoping to catch the snow,” English teacher Mrs. Raechel Kynor said. “We’re also hoping to do some volunteering since that’s something we try to do every holiday season.”

UHS librarian Mrs. Renee Lewis reported that she’ll be celebrating as usual as well. 

“I’m going to Mammoth for a few days, then we’ll come back and celebrate Christmas, and then to my in-laws. They’re really into Christmas so their house has actually been featured in magazines!” Mrs. Lewis said.

Classes and common areas at UHS have been decorated to match the holiday spirit. The library has been decked out to magazine standards with its signature pink tree, garlands, a DIY fireplace complete with books, and snowflakes dotted left and right.

“This tree was donated by Ms. Park, who used to be the assistant principal here in 2017,” Mrs. Lewis said. “We’ve been using it since my first Christmas here. It’s fun, me and Mr. Tay work together on it and he helps out a lot.” 

As for Ms. Lee’s classroom, her signature Naruto tapestry and anime wall have taken on the holiday cheer with string lights and festive mini trees. 

“In a classroom I try to keep it relatively neutral, but I do like keeping a bit of the holiday spirit! Making the classroom personal helps the students get a sense of who I am and be more comfortable,” Ms. Lee said.

Mrs. Kynor celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas and her home has a variety of Christmas trees, menorahs, and decorations representing New Mexico tradition. 

“Since we’re from New Mexico, the outside of our house looks a little different- we have luminarias which are candles inside of bags- which people line their roofs and walkways with, since most houses in New Mexico have flat roofs,” Mrs. Kynor said.

As for Mr. Knight, he infused biology even into his classroom decorations, including a tree he calls the “Gymnosperm of Biology” topped with plush models of cells and a garland of Christmas-themed cells. 

This time of year can be filled with stresses like finals [and] college apps [so] something little like some colored lights or a cute decoration can bring a sense of normalcy and relief to people,” Mr. Knight said. “Who can’t enjoy a neuron with a candy cane or a cute virus with a Santa hat?”

This year was stressful for teachers too, with changing circumstances and constant readjustment to new modes of teaching. Mrs. Lewis shared how decorating maintained a sense of normalcy for her through the tumultuous events of last year.

“It was weird because I definitely did the garlands, lights, and the tree, but I feel like when students came in they had one thing in mind—to do homework and get out,” Mrs. Lewis said. “But I kept doing all of it because it’s for us as much as it is for you guys. So I’m loving this season with you guys back here and talking to you guys—that didn’t really happen last year.”