R/W Week 2019: Beyond the spirit


A student poses with the ram mascot on Red/White day in 1966. Photo by “Stand Up and Cheer: The History of duPont Manua”

Isabella Bonilla

Saturday, November 18, 1893 marked a historic event in Manual’s history; the first Male vs. Manual game. 60 years later, Red/White Week was born. Although in the beginning, it was only Red and White day.

 Assistant Principal Louis J. ‘Butch’ Charmoli created this monumental celebration in an attempt to bring together the girls and boys of the school—Manual had recently become co-ed, and cooperation was definitely not at an all-time high. 

A 1954 November edition of The Crimson, Manual’s newspaper, printed, “This day…will probably become a tradition.. It is on this day that all good students of Manual don their red and white costumes, yell their hearts out in the pep assembly for the Male-Manual game, and accomplish practically no work the whole day, spirits being too high for any serious accomplishments.” 

“Butch Charmoli invented Red and White Day, but he never anticipated the craziness that followed,” Mike McDaniel writes in “Stand Up and Cheer: The Official History of duPont Manual High School.”

Outrageous costumes of grand design were followed by decorations and a relaxed work atmosphere. Prizes were given for the ‘best dressed’. Students began to band together in celebration of the school and participating in these events. 

As the years passed, Red and White Day became Red and White Week, evolving into the tradition Rams know and love today. But even as the years have passed, the main focuses of Red and White Week remain the same. School spirit is allowed to run rampant and a break from studies are encouraged. But true to its original implementation, Red and White week brings students together in a way no school project or club can. 

 Manual is a school of individualistic ideals, with an expectation to be well-rounded, independent and innovative. Five magnets give way to a plethora of various sports and after school activities. Students are surrounded by differing activities and work, each on a track tailored to their own fancy.  Students may mistake this for a demanding self-sufficiency; the idea that they have to accomplish their tasks alone, which can be a stressing belief. Red and White week helps debunk that myth, showing students that they’re not expected to face life alone. 

“To me, Red/White Week is a celebration of Manual and our community, ” Lily Wobbe (10, J+C) said.“For a lot of kids, it makes school fun, since we get to have fun dressing up, seeing all of the decorations around school, and of course roasting Male. Some teachers also give us a lighter workload to encourage us to have fun during the week.” 

The Friday before Red/White Week, students are allowed to stay after school and help decorate the halls. Strings of red and white balloons are strung up on every floor, in between homemade posters boosting school spirit. Executive Council runs the operation, assigning teams and distributing supplies. This is one of the only times running through the halls is permitted.

If a student stays after to help decorate, they would see many scenes. In the teacher copy room, eight students sit on the floor blowing up balloons and handing them off to be strung together. Red and white balloons lay piled up in the room, shoved into the far right corner. Once a string of balloons is complete, two students grab and run out the door with it, delivering to a needing floor.  Groups of anywhere from two to twelve huddle around ladders and tape posters to walls in every single hallway on every floor. 

“As a part of Executive Council, I have had the special opportunity to be part of the amazing team that puts on Red/White Week. This group is so close and watching Red/White week come together is a great experience,” Emma Keeling (12, HSU) said. “Red/White Week throughout my four years at Manual has been some of the happiest memories I have of high school.” 

These students have stayed as late as 10 p.m., some years even later to finish. Other clubs such as Key Club participate alongside Executive Council, making for a group of all grade levels and magnets. 

Red/White Week is one of leadership and bonding. Not only can students remember they’re not alone, but they have the opportunity to explore their potential as well. This is the week in Manual’s history where students put on their own, self-led celebration. 

It is students who decorate the halls, students who organize the penny war and decide on the themes. A student gives the Burial of the Bulldog speech, and juniors collaborate for powderpuff. Ramstock is composed of student bands, some of whom may not have formed if not for this after school event. Red and White week isn’t just about school spirit for Manual students— It’s a chance to remember who they are together.