- Lower Division
- Outside the Classroom
- Upper Division
By Malena Jackson, Denver Jewish Day School Marketing Coordinator and parent
I’ll be honest. I’m the marketing coordinator at Denver JDS, so yes, maybe I’m a bit biased about the benefits of Color War. But I’m a parent here, too, with three kids in grades four, seven and nine — all of whom have been here since kindergarten. As someone who’s worked at the school for the past two Color Wars, I’ve been able to see and experience much of the behind-the-scenes action, and I’ve been able to see it through the eyes of my colleagues, the students, and my own kids.
When my oldest, now 15, was in kindergarten I had no idea what Color War was or why the entire Upper Division got so excited about it. I had friends with older kids here tell me, “Color War is awesome. Just wait until your kids are old enough to be a part of it!” I really didn’t get it then. It was too hard to imagine my then 5-year-old being able to stay up past 8 p.m., much less be as big as all the “big kids.”
But it makes sense now. What I’m seeing is teamwork and excitement and the building of community. It’s not that kids are rooting against each other, they’re rooting for one another. Each kid is being allowed to shine in his or her own way whether it’s winning points for his or her team through a board game, academic competition, a skit, a dance or some other performance or activity.
At our school, Color War is a unique, week-long tradition that takes place each spring. It incorporates academic, athletic, artistic, and Judaic components for the entire Upper Division, with opportunities for our Lower Division kids to take part in some of the activities. Students are divided into two teams and compete for points the entire week.
True, Color War may not be for every child. It’s noisy, it’s untraditional, and it’s without a doubt an exhausting week for the kids (and some of the parents, too). But where other schools, high school in particular, may have homecoming week where students can feel invested in their school spirit, Color War at Denver JDS is a family affair. All the kids come together not just for their school, but for each other.
Where else would you see a senior helping and encouraging a sixth grader? Yes, that happens here, and it shows leadership.
Where else can a group of students perform a comical school skit in front of all their peers immediately followed by a serious d’var Torah delivered by an individual student? It takes a true team to make that happen.
Where else can you hear fourth and fifth graders yelling with true excitement in the hallways of their building, “I’m on Team Red!” or “I have friends on my team!” That’s community building.
This week I’ve seen the Lower Division kids watch Tug o’ War and sporting events, skits and divrei Torah. As they watch the older kids, they’re seeing first-hand what it means to be a team player and a leader. I watch our third and fourth graders sing Shabbat songs in an enormous circle with all the “big” kids, fully accepted as part of the team. It’s one of things that makes our school unique. The students, no matter their ages, become part of a larger family.
Sure there have been years when my kids weren’t so excited for the start of Color War. They began the week with trepidation. They were terrified of Final Night when they had to do coordinated dances as part of a larger group. But as the competitions began, as the friendships formed, and as the laughter increased, the fear of what was to come subsided and the excitement built.
In the end, they had fun and they walked away a little more sure of themselves, a little more confident in what they were capable of completing. I’m sure this year will be no different.
That’s definitely not something they can learn from a textbook.