Traditions & Innovations

St. Luke's values its many time-honored traditions—shared experiences passed on from year to year that give us a sense of identity and belonging. Students and faculty look forward to these deeply-rooted wayposts with anticipation and in time, look back on them with pride and fondness. While holding tradition in one hand, St. Luke's also fervently embraces innovation in its other—our traditions allow us to move forward with confidence, seeking to continually evolve and improve as a school and community. Below are a number of the traditions we hold dear as well as a few "innovations" that have recently become part of life on the St. Luke's Hilltop. 


List of 27 items.

  • Grandparents & Special Friends Day

    St. Luke’s combines our celebration of Grandparents and Special Friends Day with observence of Veterans Day. The result is one of St. Luke's most-loved events. Our youngest students witness our entire community honoring our elders. Grandparents and special friends of 5th graders share breakfast, meet teachers,  and attend an assembly thanking our veterans.

  • Honor Code

    Each year, students review and commit (in writing) to upholding our Honor Code (written and established by students):

    "As members of the St. Luke’s community, we will maintain and encourage integrity at all times. We will be honest in what we say and write, and we will show respect for ourselves, each other, and all property. We will treat everyone with kindness, and we will accept responsibility for our actions."
  • Summer Community Read

    Each spring, St. Luke’s selects two books for our Summer Community Read—one for Upper School and one for Middle families. Faculty members participate in the Community Read as well, and when students return, advisories reflect on the shared readings.
  • 5th Grade Orientation Days

    Orientation exercises, team-building ice breakers, and recreational activities greet our youngest new students for 5th Grade Orientation Days, which are held during the opening days of each new school year and are designed to ensure a fun and smooth transition into St. Luke’s School. The program includes a series of problem-solving drills, cooperative games, and a scavenger hunt, among other activities.
  • New Parents BBQ

    Parents of new students gather on the Hilltop for a “get-to-know-you” evening. It's a chance to spend time with “mentor” parents—who welcome and help guide new families through the first few month at a new school. 
  • Coffee House

    Several times throughout the year, Upper School students host “Coffee House”, a spontaneous, open-mic show that takes place during lunch period. Students and faculty sing (often original pieces), play musical instruments, recite poetry, and more. An appreciative audience (peers) packs the Student Commons at every Coffee House.
  • Middle School Geography Bee

    St. Luke’s Geography Bee inspires Middle School students to exercise their knowledge of geography. The competition results in a finalist to represent St. Luke’s in the statewide challenge. The winner from each state competes at the national championship in Washington, D.C. 
  • World Language Week

    Internationally-themed activities using languages other than English are the primary focus of fun during World Language Week, a series of events designed to engage the entire SLS community.
  • All-School Opening Assembly

    Each school year officially opens with the All-School Assembly when the Upper and Middle School join all faculty members in the Seldin Performing Arts Center for a welcome by Head of School Mark Davis. Mr. Davis acknowledges the rising Senior Class, which sits together on stage. The meeting ends when the Student Body President rings in the new year on the St. Luke's Bell.
  • Holiday Boutique (in support of local non-profits)

    The Holiday Boutique provides an opportunity for non-profit organizations to sell items suitable for holiday gifts. In addition, students can participate by creating items to sell, donating their proceeds to their favorite non-profit organization. This is an annual event at SLS sponsored by the Student Service Board.
  • 7th Grade Trip to Boston

    Seventh graders look forward to the annual 7th grade trip to Boston which takes them to historic sites and fun activities such as Beacon Hill, Fenway Field, Blue Man Group and a ride on a duck boat. The trip is part of the 7th grade study of American History.
  • Town Meetings - US & MS

  • 8th Grade Declamations

    Each year, families and friends fill the Fireplace Commons as 8th grade students deliver impassioned speeches about notable individuals who inspire a sense of hope, strength, and global citizenship. The presentations start out in Civics classes as a paper on a topic that interests each student, such as civil rights, women’s suffrage, or gun control. They discover an important figure within that topic and research various sources to tell that person’s story.
  • 8th Grade Trip to Washington D.C.

    The annual 8th grade trip to Washington moves learning out of the classroom and into the nation’s capital to gain a deeper understanding of 20th century events including World War II, the Great Depression and the three branches of government.
  • 8th Grade White Water Rafting Trip

    At the end of their 8th grade year, the class travels north to do white water rafting down a river in either Massachusetts or Vermont. Divided into groups, students use teamwork to navigate and make their way down river. An unforgettable, exhilarating bonding experience. 
  • Homecoming/Alumni Reunion

    A true coming home. Hundreds of alumni and St. Luke's families gather on the Hilltop to watch our teams compete, our master teacher teach, our parents of alumni reunite, WSLX radio broadcast great tunes and our entire community celebrate being a community. 
  • Junior College Trip

    At the start of each year, the College Counseling Office takes the entire 11th grade class on tours of colleges in the region. Some trips have been overnight trips, others and extended day trip. Students have the opportunity to see several college campuses up close as well as meet with university admissions directors. 
  • Middle School Field Day

    An old-fashioned Field Day where competing teams of mixed grade Middle Schoolers try to outrun, out-throw, out-three-legged race each other. The penultimate event: Tug of War! Ice pops for everyone.
  • Middle School Talent Show

    Another event that marks the end of the school year—the annual Middle School talent show typically follows Field Day. The best part of the talent show - the comaraderie and good will as students cheer on classmates. Anyone can enter and some real talent has been revealed at this fun, memorable event.
  • Midnight Run

    A 12th grade service project tradition, soon-to-be-grads conduct “Midnight Runs” into New York City to distribute food, clothing and personal care items to homeless people after a school-wide drive to collect donations.
  • Painting the Rock

    The senior class owns the privilege of decorating (spray painting) the large granite boulder that sits in the middle of the island in front of the Athletic Center. Designs and messages reflecting school spirit can change at any time throughout the year.
  • Scholars Symposium

    Held each spring at the start of SpringFest, the Scholars Symposium marks the end of the yearlong Scholars Program with presentations by seniors. Students represent the three fields of scholarship: Classical Scholars (an enriched study of Latin and Greek), Global Scholars (analysis of a global issue and extensive language study), and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Faculty advisors work one-on-one with scholars throughout the year and as they prepare for their final presentations.
  • Senior Athlete Days

    On the last scheduled home game for each season, senior athletes are honored by their teammates and coaches to celebrate the hard work and dedication that seniors have displayed in their athletic careers at SLS.
  • Senior Solo Art Show

  • SpringFest

    The annual SpringFest showcases St. Luke’s scholars, poets, musicians, artists and performers. Celebrations such as the Scholars Symposium, Senior Solo Art Show, Composers’ Concert are only a few of SpringFest events. Full story and photos.
  • Thespian Awards

    A celebration of students’ theatrical accomplishments, St. Luke’s Thespian Awards include a video highlighting moments from the year’s productions. Excited students and peers, parents and faculty, fill the audience as actors, tech crew and directors are awarded the "Thespie" for various categories. Thespian Awards photos
  • Commencement

    St. Luke's Commencement is regarded as one of the most beloved events of the year. Seniors receive their diplomas at St. Luke’s School’s commencement ceremony, usually held in early June, in front of hundreds of families and friends. The class valedictorian and salutatorian join the Head of School in presenting speeches to their peers. In a tradition that each class looks forward to, Head of School Mark Davis pays tribute to every graduate by name during his opening remarks. 


List of 12 items.

  • J-Term

    J-Term is an immersive learning experience wherein 9th grade students work in teams to research and present solutions to a wide variety of human rights issues. The learning culminates in an exhibition where teams present ideas for, in one student's words, "making a difference in this world."
  • Parents' Association Book Chats

    Parents are invited to read a classic book (one their children are also reading) and join in an evening of discussion led by St. Luke's teachers and Head of School Mark Davis. An elegant dinner in line with the book's "theme" is served. Past books: The Sun Also Rises (Hemingway), Frankenstein (Shelley) Mrs. Dalloway (Wolfe), and A Passage to India (Forster).
  • Reality Check Software Website/App

    How much time will an honors math class and homework take compared to other classes? What percentage of time will each week I need for sports? Theatre? What about sleep?

    So many students struggle to manage challenging, jam-packed schedules. Luckily for St. Luke’s students, several of their classmates have come to the rescue with Reality Check—a website that helps students get a real sense of the hours needed for various course loads. Read more about this innovative software created by Zach Brusko’s Honors Software Engineering class: Jamie Ullman '20, Ian Smith '17, teacher Zach Brusko, Dennis Polyakov '18, Bilal Memon '18.
  • Discovering Voices

    Discovering Voices began as a way to expand innovative, project-based teaching in the Middle School. It includes fun, hands-on, cross-curricular workshops designed to inspire new thinking and passions and culminates with a sharing and performance day. Watch the Discovering Voices video.
  • Social Justice Leadership Summit

    Upper School students and faculty devote an entire Saturday to the deep exploration of identity and social inequality. Whether seated in a large circle in the Fireplace Commons or breaking out into smaller groups, the SJLS provides a safe environment to share and openly discuss challenging topics, often uncomfortable to confront. 
  • Lunch & Lead Speaker Series

    St. Luke’s students arrange and host campus visits by established leaders from a wide variety of fields. Lunch & Lead includes artists, scholars, scientists, corporate executives, and others who have demonstrated their abilities to lead and make a difference. 
  • Founders Cup Competition

    A little bit of friendly competition goes a long way to raise school spirit during the newly-revived Founders Cup Challenge. The Upper School is divided into four "houses" named after one of St. Luke's founding heads of school—the houses go head to head in contests such as a geography bee, speed-dressing contest, and school trivia quizzes.
  • Hackathon

    The St. Luke's Hackathon is 48 hours of non-stop hacking, tinkering and creating applications imagined and designed by Upper and Middle school students, faculty members and parents. SLS parent and trustee David Pakman put it best: “The Hackathon has grown from an idea to a highly differentiating event for SLS. It embraces our values and our culture—team-based experiential learning in a non-standard environment, and under some duress of sleep-deprivation! This is like the real world.”
  • Holi Festival

    St. Luke's celebrated the Holi Festival— a traditional Indian festival of colors intended to eliminate conflict and welcome in spring. Proceeds went to Uplift Humanity - India, an organization that fights juvenile incarceration. According to Ajit Akole '18: "it was a great way to expose people to a different culture while helping an important cause."
  • Maker Camp

    Spend a few summer weeks tinkering, experimenting, learning to use St. Luke's fablab equipment (3D printers and laser cutter) and having a lot of fun along the way. Led by designLab Director Michael Mitchell and a team of St. Luke's alum pursuing STEM fields. 
  • Brown Bag Luncheons

    Created by St. Luke's Parents' Association, Brown Bag Lunches are a time to grab some lunch with a thought leader at St. Luke's. Speakers have included Head of Upper School Liz Perry, Director of Inclusive Excellence & Leadership, Dr. Stephanie Bramlett, and designLab Director Michael Mitchell.
  • Seniors Summer Writers Workshop

    An invaluable chance for students to begin their college essay while learning writing lessons that will benefit them well beyond St. Luke's. Taught by a team of St. Luke's teachers, the Writers Workshop is designed to build confidence and skills.
St. Luke’s School is a secular private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5 through 12 serving 25 towns in Connecticut and New York. Our exceptional academics and diverse co-educational community foster students’ intellectual and ethical development and prepare them for top colleges. St. Luke’s Center for Leadership builds the commitment to serve and the confidence to lead.