WOOSTER, Ohio – Mixed in among the throng of outrageous costumes that embody the one-of-a-kind tradition that is I.S. Monday – The College of Wooster’s academic Mardi Gras, a communal celebration of achievement when seniors meet the deadline of submitting their Independent Study’s and then revel in a loosely organized parade – are meaningful props, and there was one in particular that stood out this year.
A poster board cutout with a life-size image of Maddy Ireton, a psychology major unable to attend after undergoing hip surgery during spring break, was carried enthusiastically by her women’s soccer “family” during the parade. “It was super cool because it’s such a big part of being a Wooster student. I asked my two coaches if one of them would mind turning in my I.S. … I had no idea they were going to do the poster, and then to give it to my teammates for the parade meant a lot,” she said.
Not only that, the team, specifically Anna Hartig, made her a virtual part of the parade via FaceTime. “There were a couple of different points when the team was all together, and Anna passed the phone around and I got to talk to them and share in the experience. That was super meaningful. I was definitely bummed not to be there, but the big cardboard cutout and FaceTiming me the whole time was just awesome, very supportive,“ said an emotional Ireton from her home in Dublin, Ohio.
Another athletic-related prop, one with some tradition behind it, popped up as well in Fiona the mannequin, cousin of Miranda. More than a decade ago, the women’s cross country team began a fun, quirky custom of carrying a mannequin, attached to a broomstick, during the I.S. parade (Miranda also made appearances at other events) and it lives on, now in the form of Fiona (Miranda retired to The Bahamas, according to lore). Fiona transformed from last year’s zombie look, as Collier Summay “cleaned her up and made her really pretty,” then held her high throughout the parade fulfilling “something she’s been looking forward to since freshman year” because “these funky and weird traditions make the team so special.”
As for the costumes, the Class of 2019 did not disappoint with colorful outfits, retro sports jerseys, and I.S.-themed t-shirts on full display Monday. Some of the more eye-catching looks included an inflatable T-rex costume, a group wearing chicken hats, and onesies like Ben Garnitz’s full bear outfit, inspired because he’s the “hairiest, like a bear” of his friends, and Mary Stehulak’s “Pajama Sam” getup, which actually was based in part on her I.S. subject of videogames. And, of course, it wouldn’t be Wooster without a kilt and lots of plaid as one shirtless young man braved the cool conditions wearing just the former.
Monday’s sunshine-filled revelry was the 31st such celebration, though, I.S. has been a part of the school’s curriculum for seven-plus decades. Now, Ireton, Summay, Garnitz, Stehulak, and their senior classmates will regroup to take the next step in the I.S. process, defending their original scholarship and research via an oral presentation to two faculty members and then present their work at Senior Research Symposium on Friday, April 26, another special and unique day at Wooster.