Bringing Joy to the Community: Springfest 2023

  • Community Service
  • Student Life
Bringing Joy to the Community: Springfest 2023

Slides, ponies, games, and prizes galore awaited the nearly 400 local children who came to Lawrenceville today for the School’s annual Springfest carnival held in The Circle. More than 300 Lawrenceville Housemates volunteered to create games, paint faces, prepare crafts, and share treats with their younger buddies, Mercer County, N.J. kids who participate in the School’s community service program. According to Aoife Kilfeather ’24, Springfest is “a celebration of all that we have done in our community throughout the year.”

The event has been held annually since 1994, except in 2009 (Swine flu pandemic) and 2020 (Covid-19 pandemic). “It takes a world-wide crisis to shut us down,” Director of Community Service Elizabeth Ferguson joked.

Springfest is important, Liza Strong ’24 (2023-24 Student Council Community Service Representative) said, “because it engages Lawrenceville students with our community partners. Local children have the opportunity to participate in an exciting spring carnival, and volunteers can help with booths or be buddies to preschool and elementary school children.”

All of the Houses participate. Some stick with traditional offering, but others create something different each year. Ferguson said, “Springfest is a fun opportunity for House bonding. Everyone can participate at some level, whether they are working in their House booth or making cotton candy at one of the food stands.”

While it’s hard to pick a favorite part of Springfest – Bouncy castle? Pony rides? Dunk tank? – Ferguson loves seeing the designs created by Lawrentian face painters. “They magically turn the little kids into Spiderman or a beautiful butterfly,” she said.

2023 Springfest Face painting

Kilfeather said she most enjoys “seeing Lawrenceville students interact with children, whether that’s helping to paint their faces or teaching them how to bean bag toss.”

Lawrentians take on all sorts of leadership roles at the School, and one of the most fun may be buddying up with their guests and guiding them around The Circle. While some have worked and played with youngsters in year- or term-long projects, friendships can also blossom almost immediately at the carnival. “After an hour and a half, the kids tell us they feel bonded,” said Rachel Cantlay, former Community Service Program Director, who helped organize this year’s event.

Kilfeather hopes the guests experience “a feeling of welcoming from all of those volunteering” and that Lawrentians “are excited for the event and feel fulfilled by helping others, as doing community service does for me.” Strong added that her goal is that volunteers “gain a better understanding of hands-on learning and how meaningful/impactful community service can be.”

When asked what she wants both guests and volunteers gain from Springfest, Ferguson immediately responded, “A little bit more joy. My hope is that they walk away feeling so joyful because it's been a hard few years for so many people and this is just such a bright spot. If everybody walks away with a little more joy then, we’ve succeeded.”

2023 Springfest bouncy castle

The truly joyous afternoon is thanks to the generosity of Leigh Lockwood ’65, who has sponsored the event since its 1994 inception. Service is close to his heart, as he told The Lawrentian last summer, inspired by his childhood experiences in Mexico. In addition to his generosity to the community service program, he’s chaired the Alumni Association Executive Committee, served as an alumni trustee on the School’s Board of Trustees, founded the Lawrenceville Club of Mexico, and served as class president and secretary. Lockwood was the 2022 recipient of Lawrenceville’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, conferred annually by the Lawrenceville School Alumni Association Executive Committee to a Lawrentian in recognition of exceptional efforts to promote the best interests of the School.

For additional information, contact Lisa M. Gillard H'17, director of public relations, at lgillard@lawrenceville.org.