Beloved Coffeehouse to be reimagined in the spring


Potomac Smugmug

Natalie, Isabel, and Alejandra (senior members of the Coffeehouse Committee) performing in 2019.

Tess Weinreich and Clara Xiao

Of all the time-honored traditions at Potomac —the first-day senior-kindergarten procession, the Thanksgiving assembly, Winterfest, Mayday, and more—there is perhaps none so beloved as Coffeehouse. (For freshmen who have yet to experience it firsthand, Coffeehouse is a poetry, a capella, electric-guitar, and comedy-filled night where, in open-mic style, student performers showcase their artistic talents.)

In 2019, the Current polled the student body to determine what winter event was Upper Schoolers’ favorite. Of the 128 respondents, Coffeehouse beat all other events by a 15% margin.   

While the cozy atmosphere, sharing of home-baked goods, and live performances are what make Coffeehouse so special, they also make the event remarkably unsuited for life during a pandemic. In fact, Coffeehouse was previously scheduled for December 11. Members of the student planning committee, Emma Chun, Consey Dabbiere, Natalie Moosher, Alejandra Monzon, and Isabel Tierney worked with administrators to reimagine the event to make it more compatible with hybrid learning. Their plan was to split performances between two stages (with junior and senior performers on the EPAC stage and underclassmen in the crossroads). Seniors would have watched live from the auditorium, while 9th, 10th, and 11th graders tuning into a live stream. 

Senior Alejandra Monzon, a member of the Coffeehouse planning committee, said that “It’s a priority for us to get seniors watching live because obviously we’re graduating. It’s our last Coffeehouse, and it’s such a special tradition. It was always important for us to get together, relax, and enjoy each other’s company as a class, but especially now that we’re seniors, it’s our last hurrah.” 

Two weeks after Thanksgiving, however, the bump in regional cases unexpectedly forced Potomac into Red Mode. Campus was closed and the matter of Coffeehouse (an event traditionally held in December) was tabled to be revisited later in the year.

Mr. Westermann explained that, despite the continued setbacks, Upper School administrators and the Coffeehouse student planning committee remain confident that with creativity and flexibility, Coffeehouse can be saved.

“We thought, if you’re going to try to make any student events work, Coffeehouse is the one because for students and faculty it’s really most peoples’ favorite. If we pull the elements of the event that we really love, like the performances, the being together, and raising money for a good cause, we can still make it really special,” he said.

Though usually held in mid-December, the Potomac administration is currently planning for the event to take place in the late spring. This postponement will allow the event to be held outdoors, mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and opening up the turf as a venue large enough for the entire student body to gather together safely.

“We’re going to set it up kind of like the pep rally that happened earlier this year, and we’re going to have it sort of around the same time after school, just outdoors,” senior member of the Coffeehouse committee, Natalie Moosher said.

“The hope is to get seniors and juniors on the turf field watching, and then possibly open up Spangler Center and have the other grades watching from there, like from a livestream,” she continued. 

The student planning committee is in the process of reimagining the event to fit a Spring Fling theme. 

 Alejandra Monzon told us, “One thing that we’re really excited about, in terms of Coffeehouse being in spring this year, is that we might be able to have our school’s annual bonfire right afterwards. We wouldn’t usually be able to do that in winter, but now we can have two traditions in one,” she said.

 “So many traditions have been taken away from seniors this year, so we’re so excited to make sure at least Coffeehouse, and maybe the Bonfire too, can happen,” Alejandra emphasized.