ITS Carnegie: Community in the Courtyard


Annie Nguyen

Students congregating in the courtyard to enjoy the festivities of ITS Carnegie.

Our trusty Rhino mascot promoting ITS Carnegie two days before the festival.

I finally felt a sense of community from the school in the form of the first annual ITS Carnegie last Friday, September 27th. 

Before the cluster of booths and games and food popped into existence in the courtyard, Carnegie Vanguard High School to me was just a beehive of students trying to finish assignments or study for tests or rush last-minute projects in isolation from one another. Little school spirit, no relationships between the countless student organizations, nobody championing anyone’s existence. Any attempt at community would have had to wait until mid-November for the annual International Festival–but this wait would prove too long for Carnegie Theatre Company who decided to take matters into their own hands. 

The theatre organized ITS Carnegie to simply foster a sense of community between clubs and organizations and, well, boost student morale against the backdrop of an increasingly stressful semester. The festival would be an exhale during the first academic cycle to enjoy home-cooked food before zipping around in hamster balls and dunking friends into a tank of water. Really, ITS Carnegie was created to be a pause on life.

So how successful, exactly, was the festival in achieving what it was designed to achieve? 

For four hours after early release last Friday, I bounced from table to table in the courtyard to truly soak up everything the festival had to offer–I was absolutely delighted by the sight of once-isolated clubs existing in the same space at the same time and doing nothing but spreading positivity in the form of food and fun. I enjoyed concessions and lively conversation at the Black Student Union table, bought a brand-spanking-new scrunchie from the Cheer Team, snacked on nachos made by Boys’ Soccer Team, witnessed my friends being “pied” in the face by International Thespian Society–the list goes on as I thoroughly enjoyed my time and found myself clinging onto that Friday. Taking a step back and surveying the courtyard and surrounding areas, I was genuinely in awe of how a couple of tables facing each other transformed the environment of Carnegie Vanguard. Students–happy and engaged students–were milling about and simply having fun.

Black Student Union and the Carnegie Vanguard Cheer Team promoting their booths.

ITS Carnegie was not confined to the courtyard, however. No, the transformative fun that I encountered was out on the field next to the basketball court where life-sized hamster balls awaited. ITS Carnegie, unlike any school-wide festival Carnegie Vanguard High School had ever seen, offered the opportunity for students to zorb.

Entering my senior year I was expecting an abundance of surprises from the semester but I did not see myself crawling into a hamster ball and then peddling myself forward to race another human-hamster–and having the absolute time of my life whilst doing so to the extent in which I got in line another four times. Zorbing, widely popular in New Zealand where it is hailed as an extreme sport, was introduced to the campus and, as expected, was a favorite among students. Nobody expected to feel the kind of adrenaline whilst in the hamster balls, the rush of exhilaration trying to scamper forward.

Yazan Numan, junior, operating zorbing at ITS Carnegie.

The first annual ITS Carnegie was most definitely a memorable event this fall that marks the beginning of a new cycle of Carnegie Vanguard High School, a new cycle of cooperation and abundance for student life here. As a festival-goer, I would strongly advocate for the booths and games and food to pop into existence in the courtyard again next year, and the next, and the next. Whether or not students were aware of this while milling about, ITS Carnegie was our collective moment of levity. For now, as we return to the daily toil of classwork, tests, and college applications, we await the next time we can pig out and zorb together as a school.