Foliage Day 2022: Celebrating Community and Autumn On Burleigh Mountain

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As the nights get cooler and bright colors begin to replace the green of our New Hampshire forests, the campus begins to buzz with speculation. Foliage Day is a traditional one-day surprise Head’s Holiday each fall at New Hampton School, and students love to try and guess which day it will be in advance of the Head’s announcement. Wednesday night via social media, Head of School Joe Williams, with help from Carter Williams ’22 and Coach Ed Cooley ’89 (Head Men’s Basketball Coach for the Providence College Friars), announced to Husky Nation that Thursday would be the day! Following a morning meeting, the entire community hiked shoulder-to-shoulder to nearby Burleigh Mountain.

When is Foliage Day?

No fall tradition is as anticipated and celebrated as Foliage Day. It is a respite from our academic routine, but at the same time, it is a day of togetherness. The ingredients to a successful Foliage Day emphasize our exceptional location in Central New Hampshire, always identifying a quintessential New England fall day with sunshine, color, and dry air.

Though many try to guess the date of the event, few have accomplished this feat. Their guesses are based on the weather forecast, the changing of the leaves on campus, the schedule of events and games that would make the day a possibility, and one person remarkably (but inaccurately) tried to guess it based on the lunch menu, believing that grilled cheese day was the easiest to cancel. In truth, it has fallen anywhere from sunny September to frosty November.

How long has Foliage Day been around?

The earliest accounts of Foliage Day date back to the 1880s. It has been known as Mountain Day, the School Walk, and other monikers in its time. Since its inception some 140+ years ago, it has been widely regarded by current students and alumni as the most popular of all New Hampton traditions. Though the name Foliage Day was introduced in more modern times, and the logistics have been altered slightly over the years, the spirit of the day has remained unchanged, as captured in the October 1883 issue of the Hamptonia:

“The students were granted a half-holiday Wednesday, Sept. 19, and participated in their semi-annual walk, an occasion which is anticipated with much pleasure. They formed in line at Chapel Hall, and proceeded to the Pinnacle, the most sightly place around New Hampton. They spent the afternoon in rambling over its top and observing the different sights visible from its lofty peak. It was a lovely day and none could help enjoying themselves. They returned home just as the sun was sinking below the western hills, rested from their studies, and with the universal sentiment that they had had a splendid time…”
“An important social favorite, the school walk.”  – The Hamptonia, October 1883

Our Burleigh Mountain Retreat

Burleigh Mountain has had many uses over the years and includes an old ski slope, an alpine ropes tower, and beautiful views of the Pemigewasset River valley, campus, and the White Mountains far in the distance. Students enthusiastically hiked above the clearing where everyone gathered to take in the views and snap a photo at the top of the mountain, others tested their coordination and balance on the Alpine Tower, and others basked in the sunshine with their peers.

Following a great morning and lunch outdoors on a spectacular day, students and faculty make their way back down the hill to campus and returned in time for co-curricular activities, practices, dinner, and study hours before returning to the academic week. This day off was a welcome day to refocus our energy, take a mental health break, and just enjoy. Ahead of us, we are excited for the annual House Clean, Family Weekend, and Long Weekend—the mid-fall academic break. Congratulations, Huskies, and we hope you enjoyed the day!

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