Chapel program continues to evolve


stained glass window over the altar in Raynor Chapel

Nina Doody

Chapel, a long standing tradition at Annie Wright, is evolving, with new changes this year. Annie Wright is affiliated with the National Association of Episcopal Schools and was historically founded on Episcopalian beliefs. The current role of religion has declined, however, and students are having more input.

Bill Hulseman, director of academic affairs, is also the head for all school chapel this year. In addition to Hulseman there is a new Chapel Planning Committee (CPC), which consists of six Upper School girls who assist in planning and facilitating all-school chapels and serve as acolytes.

“I would hope that Chapel will be seen as a unique experience in the lives of students, faculty, and staff,” said Hulseman. “We’re gathered in a unique space, we’re all together, and we are at the intersection of past, present, and future. I hope that Chapel gatherings will be a time to understand what we as a school and community are all about.”

Hulseman also reflected on the role of alumnae in understanding the importance of Chapel. “I’ve been lucky to chat with alumnae for whom Chapel was one of (if not the) most important aspects of their Annie Wright experience,” he said.

Every week at all-school Chapel, students process in with four flags: an American flag, Annie Wright flag (which is held in front of the students as they sing the alma mater), flag of the Episcopal Church and United Nations flag. A change is that a cross is no longer part of the procession.

“Growth of the Chapel program will depend on every member of the community,” said Hulseman. “It’s not about my vision for the program or even the CPC’s vision for it – it’s about listening to and anticipating what our community needs and using the time and efforts well to invite everyone in. We can’t force anyone to have a good experience in Chapel, but it’s not a time to be passive or expect entertainment. As in so many experiences, you get out of Chapel what you put into it.”

Recently in Chapel, there was an activity for everyone to share their ideas with the Chapel Planning Committee. Those ideas are being reviewed in planning further Chapels.

With Annie Wright growing in size, the space is getting tighter and tighter. There is no room to spare between pews. With growth comes change, and Chapel will be shifting and accommodating to the changes.

If you have a thought or idea for an all-school Chapel, please contact myself (Nina Doody), or Bill Hulseman.