The Spire: The Voice for Holy Cross

I used to hate writing. Now, you should just call me Alexander Hamilton. After nearly two years at the college, I feel like I’ve finally come close to finding my voice in my writing. But, academic writing can take a toll on us all. When the spring semester began, I decided I wanted to challenge myself in my writing by joining the Opinions Staff of The Spire.

The Spire is the College of the Holy Cross’ student newspaper. It has been published weekly since 1925, with a core mission to serve the Holy Cross’ population by sharing student stories in mainstream news, campus features, opinion editorials, sports, and their Eggplant (the satirical) section. To be completely honest, I didn’t know that The Spire existed, but I am so glad that I stumbled upon it. 

Being an opinion staff writer has proved to be a great opportunity in several different ways. On one hand, I am more aware of my own beliefs and values toward things happening on a daily basis. That is not to say I am not attentive in my life, but having a certain intention behind my writing has already begun transforming me for the better. 

While I would say I’m closer to attaining my personal style in my articles, I am still struggling to let my voice shine through my opinions on paper. Every week, I have the chance to write about anything as long as I have an opinion to back it up. And, there’s no pressure! So far, I’ve written movie reviews, political and news commentaries, and pieces about my personal experiences. The weekly publication of The Spire allows me to stretch out my writing capabilities and see how far I can go. 

There is a phenomenal group of writers that contribute to the newspaper weekly. And, they are some of the most supportive people I’ve met at the college. I feel lucky to have found a niche that allows my creativity and skills to strengthen. 

 For more on The Spire and how to get involved check out their website here. Or, be sure to pick up a paper issue around campus!

Tearing Up The Hogan Ballroom: Winter Formal

Many people understand that Holy Cross students are hard-working, but know how to have a good time, inside and outside of the classroom. So, who needs an excuse to attend a dance with their friends? I certainly don’t! When we returned to campus for the spring semester, the Class of 2025 student officers announced that they would be throwing a Winter Formal exclusively for the sophomore class. This was timely because this is the last semester we will all be on campus together because some of us go abroad (me!) or participate in the DC program.

Meg S, Audrey B, Mia B, Alexandra B, Ariana C. (L to R)

With this in mind, we bought our tickets and picked out the nicest dresses we had in our dorms. Not to mention that we were the best dressed. (We can “argue” about this at a later date…) The impromptu dance was held in the Hogan Ballroom, so it certainly was an intimate experience for the majority of our class who attended. 

When we weren’t tearing up the dance floor, we were going around to friends, some we haven’t seen in a while, and others we just met this semester. It was a wonderful experience for all of us to be together, especially during a stressful time in our academic lives. We are grateful to our Student Government for organizing such a fun event. 

Record-Breaking Chills on the Hill

If you’re from the New England area, or rather most places in the US right now, you probably experienced the record breaking cold last weekend. And, for us Crusaders, it was pretty cold given how windy it gets on the Hill. Either way, after our Friday classes ended, we made our way back to the dorms and settled in the warmth. 

It’s different for every one of us, but I thought it’d be fun to share what’s going on when there’s really “nothing” going on. While freshman year dorm assignments are great in itself, allowing people to meet new people and form groups via Montserrat and Orientation groups, you can choose who you live with and where you live in the years following. I definitely jumped on this, because I had great friends that would basically take up an entire Healy floor. And, good thing we jumped on snagging a room in Healy because it’s arguably the most convenient of all the dorms on campus.

My neighbor, Audrey, and I chilling in her room.

While it might not be as exciting for you to read about it, as it is for me to write about it, there’s no wrong in giving you a taste of even the coldest days on campus. On Friday, my friends and I came into one of our dorms, and we debriefed the previous academic week and talked about some things we’d love to do with our time in the dorm – because there was NO chance we were leaving! We watched Top-Gun and Top-Gun: Maverick because who can’t get enough of Tom Cruise? We can’t, that’s for sure! 

It was “warming up” on Saturday, so naturally we hit up the library so we could get some things off our shoulders. I don’t like to push myself every single day, but a little could go a long way on the weekends. After we grinded out a couple hours of work in the Debate Room of Dinand, we came back and put some comfy sweatpants on to do a fun karaoke night. Of course, it was the entire Hamilton soundtrack. If you don’t know at least My Shot, what are you doing? It’s okay, though, we’re here to get through the score together! 

Hoval. 11pm. (Probably) Felt like < -41 degrees

After indulging in copious amounts of Earl Grey and popcorn, it was a successful weekend, even amid record-breaking cold temperatures. Now, the temperature is coming up and it’s beautiful on the Hill. For now.

Jesuit Tradition and Crusader Art: Student Scholarship in Action

Holy Cross prides itself on the intersectionality of student scholarship and our communities, both near and far. It’s certainly a part of the Jesuit tradition that I find myself deeply committed to. Given Holy Cross’ top-tier academic instruction and resources, our commitment to the Worcester community (and beyond), and our scholarship goes beyond the walls of our historic Fenwick Hall. 

I recently reported back on the new Prior Performing Arts Center and how integral it is for our campus community. If you remember, you might have gotten a passionate request to come to the new Cantor Art Gallery to see the inaugural historical exhibit: “Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece.” Well, I am ecstatic to say that the Holy Land has finally made its way “home” on St. James Hill. 

Across several semesters, different sections of the Art History class, “Kings and Caliphs: Art of Luxury,” spent countless hours researching a particular object that would be highlighted in the exhibit. And, after years of research by the leading curator, Professor Amanda Luyster, and students along the way, the exhibition was finally a reality. The exhibition activities began with a guest lecture by Dr. William Purkis from the University of Birmingham on “Bringing the Holy Land Home: Crusaders, Relics, and the Transformation of Latin Christendom’s Sacred Material World.” This was an appropriate and engaging talk to put our Jesuit identity in connection with the Islamic and Crusader Art that would be living on our campus for the next couple of months. 

The Chertsey Tiles © Janis Desmarais and Amanda Luyster

After the lecture concluded, I could feel the anticipation from everyone as we made our way up to the Cantor Art Gallery. I was feeling a great deal of honor and privilege being able to study under the incredible guest curator, Professor Luyster. The exhibition was phenomenal. So amazing, you’ll have to come yourself to see it! You’ll certainly regret it if you don’t. It’s not everyday that you can see all of these objects in physical conversation with one another. 

Me and My Seal!

Like I mentioned before, I was in one of Professor Luyster’s classes on Crusader art. So, we had the opportunity to research an object that would be highlighted in the exhibition. As many professors and advisors have told me in the past, there is nothing like seeing something you’ve worked so hard on for the first time. And, even though the seal I worked on was tiny, it was still mighty. Nonetheless, I was so proud to see it there in the flesh. You know, someone nearly 800 years ago got a letter with that very seal on it. Now we have it. How crazy is that? It’s something you can say about every object in the exhibition, and yet, something you can’t come across very often in your own community.  

My Seal! Seal of Latin Emperor Henry of Flanders (Dumbarton Oaks)

This is only the beginning of sophisticated student research with professors, advisors, and other professionals in their fields. There are plenty of opportunities at the college for involvement in our studies outside of the classroom. And, this blog post is one of the opportunities I’ve been involved in this year alone; I’ll write some more later. It truly connects our communal Holy Cross identity with our own personal identities. The exhibit closes April 6, 2023; hopefully, you can make it over here before then!

A Close Up

Sophomore Spring: “Realistic” Academic Goals

Sophomore Spring. I already like the sound of that. You already got a taste of what the spring semester might look like for me; but, I have some very realistic academic goals I would like to share with you all. 

Things are going to start looking different around here. You know, because I’m about to turn all philosophical on you. My first realistic goal is to be more philosophical this semester. And by this I mean I’m taking my first philosophy class at the college: Metaphysics. Yea, scary. But, hey, I really just want to start spitting out some Aristotle and Descartes, no big deal. It’s realistic, if you ask me.

As I’m becoming philosophical in my own way, you should expect that I’ll be referencing the Constitution and political ideology thanks to taking a shot in my first political science class on American Government and Politics (only after watching The West Wing, of course). I already spit out Hamilton lyrics without command, so what’s the difference?

While I’m becoming more philosophical and political, I plan on pursuing all my other endeavors in the form of eloquent Latin poetry, such as Ovid’s Metamorphoses and the Greek text of Lysias with some of my very best friends.

If you know me, you know I’m working on my humor. And, all bad jokes aside, I am so excited for my classes this semester. Although it’s always hard to get out of comfort during break, I miss the energy during a busy semester. And, as you know, I love taking academics seriously and challenging myself, so here goes nothing.

By the way, I plan on completing all these goals among others. So, be prepared.

New Year’s Resolutions 2023 (From an “Anti-Resolutions” type)

I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, and I tend to stray away from them. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I feel some personal power in being able to make changes any time during the year. But, since it’s the season for sharing our hopes and dreams for the new year, I thought it might be nice to share them for a change. 2023 has not yet begun for my time back at Holy Cross, but we’ll be going back to campus later this month. For the meantime, I had a lot of free time on my hands to reflect on my time at school and this past year. 

Last year was certainly challenging. It’s no surprise that Holy Cross students are such a force because of how positively demanding Holy Cross is. And, don’t get me wrong, this is the best thing for a student trying to find their way. While it’s hard to academically challenge yourself, I feel like I’m truly making progress in several areas at Holy Cross. I finally feel comfortable with my academic strengths and weaknesses and began to optimize and target them. I am so proud of my peers and myself. It’s a step in the right direction for all of us! 

While this sounds optimistic, I always seek to find new things to challenge myself. What’s the joy of having the privilege to go to school if not to embrace not knowing something. Last semester I began some professional editorial work as a research associate for the New England Classical Journal under a Holy Cross professor. The work we’ve been doing is something new to me. As someone who loves to learn, I’m having a great experience. I thoroughly enjoy getting some practical experience of the ways of editing a big and professional publication. I’m looking forward to continuing my work throughout next semester. I’ll keep you posted about it!

When we get back to campus, I’m cracking down on all of my courses and planning Classics Day! It’s an event for high school students to celebrate their knowledge of the Classics with a series of activities hosted on campus. You might remember that I wrote a blog post about helping out with this event, but now I get to lead it as Classics Day chair. I’m beyond excited (and nervous). The biggest risk I’m taking this year (so far as I know) is possibly studying abroad in the fall. I’ll let you know when I hear back, but you might be hearing from me across the globe next semester!

2023 is full of endless possibilities. I truly hope that my next year on and off the Hill will be positively challenging and rewarding by putting myself out there more. I hope to lead a fulfilling year by surrounding myself with people I love and doing things I love. I hope to be kinder and more intentional in my thoughts and prayers. I hope to live more gracefully with gratitude in an attempt to be a force for the world. I could start with the Hill and we’ll go from there.

I’ll be around a bit more in 2023. I hope you like these blogs as much as I love writing them! Bye for now!

Holy Cross Christmas: A Worcester Winter Wonderland

‘Tis the season for a Holy Cross Christmas! With the semester finally finished and the holiday season upon us, it’s always so delightful to see what Holy Cross is doing for the holidays. As a sophomore on the Hill, I’ve gotten more comfortable with everything that goes on during this season, and I already had an idea of what I wanted to come back to from last year. 

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting

First on the list was the Annual Christmas Tree Lightning in front of O’Kane. During such a stressful time as a student, it’s always so special to come together as a campus to listen to our acapella and music groups perform our favorite holiday tunes and warm up with some hot chocolate and cookies while we wait for the beautiful lighting. After anticipation built up, we all came together in prayer with our hopes going into the end of the year and blessed the tree lighting. As always, it was beautifully done.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know how fond I am of the new Prior Performing Arts Center. After spending a lot more time in the center, I can confidently say that it does not disappoint. It certainly is another lovely study spot and remarkable facility for the arts. Like many spots on campus, there were stunning Christmas trees in the “beehive.” During the last week of classes, my friends and I would come for the delicious pastries and hot chocolate they had out for students, faculty, and staff. This was so thoughtful to bring so many together during such a busy time. And, of course, it was absolutely scrumptious! 

The Beehive at Christmas
The Medieval Room with a Lovely Christmas Tree

While there are several other happenings for the holidays on campus, I’d love to highlight a glimpse of the Winter Wonderland in our very own city of Worcester. As you might understand, I love going to the Worcester Art Museum, and it would not be a Holy Cross semester without at least one visit. When I went to the WAM in December, it was completely decked out in holiday decor. Each christmas tree had different decorations, which was fitting for a museum with such a diverse collection of art. I personally loved it! 

It’s always such a magical time at Holy Cross, especially when you’re with people you love. From me to you, I hope you have a special holiday season filled with lots of love and happiness. I’m sure you’ll hear from me one more time before the new year, but if you don’t have a happy and healthy new year! Looking forward to what’s to come in 2023! As always, I’ll keep you updated on this blog! 

PS. If you’re into the Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel, here’s an opinion article I wrote for Holy Cross’ student newspaper, The Spire, on one of their newest movies: A Holiday Spectacular

Best Meal at Kimball

I’ve yet to talk about food on the Hill, so let’s start off strong. This might be a hot take for my Crusaders out there, but I argue that the best meal at Holy Cross’ dining hall, Kimball, is breakfast. I’m more of a brunch person myself, but breakfast at Kimball is just how it goes during the week. They basically have anything you could want for breakfast, and you must use the delicious food you’re given.

During my first year at Holy Cross, I heard about the infamous omelette station, but it’s been closed for several reasons. However…this semester it was reborn. I must’ve been out of the loop because I didn’t even know it was open until weeks into this marvelous rebirth, but glory to whoever told me about it.

Every Tuesday-Thursday before class, some friends and I meet up on the omelette line and fill up a cup with our desired components. I gently slide it over to the angel working the station at the time, and in minutes the oozy, gooey, cheezy, delicious (I’ll stop) omelette rests on my plate. I’m hungry just thinking about it.

What’s your go-to omelette order? And do you take it with cheese? I’m sure you’d find something quite enjoyable without leaving campus.

Any questions about food on campus? Reach out!

A New First for All: The Prior Performing Arts Center

Everyone needs a makeover every once in a while, even Holy Cross. Maybe you’ve seen all the hype, or maybe you’ve missed it in the black hole of social media, but there’s a new and refreshing addition to the Hill: the Prior Performing Arts Center.  

I would consider myself an art person, but certainly not an artist. Growing up, I danced, but I’ve always loved watching live performances of plays, musicals, and all types of music. And this new performing arts center is absolutely remarkable. I’ve only been inside once or twice (so far), and it is incredible. My apologies for the minimal pictures; that’s just an excuse for you to get over to Worcester and visit for yourselves! This captivating space is now home to the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, a concert hall, a theater, and many spaces for students to create in whatever art form they find fit, like design, dance, theater, and so much more! 

As an art history enthusiast, I will likely find myself in the upgraded Cantor Art Gallery, given how welcoming it feels. Not to say that it wasn’t loved before; the love just grew even deeper in this new space. Well deserved if you ask me! The first time I went to the Prior Performing Arts Center was to view the current exhibition at the art gallery: “Afterimage: Visual Arts Faculty 2022.” This is a wonderful showing of Holy Cross’ own visual arts faculty showing their hard work. For someone who has a special interest in ancient and medieval art, this was certainly out of my comfort zone because it was modern and abstract art. Regardless, it was still breathtaking, and the new space gives it the perfect opportunity to show off for the first time.

Inside the Prior Performing Arts Center. They call this the “Beehive.”

In exciting news, my art history class this semester, called “Kings & Caliphs: the Art of Luxury,” will be working with the following exhibit: “Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece.” My professor, Amanda Luyster, has been working extremely hard and long on this project. Trust me. You will not want to miss it. I repeat. You will NOT want to miss this! January 26, 2022, through April 6, 2023. I’ll be there, and I hope to see you there! I feel so lucky to be learning under such an incredibly talented art historian whose passion shines through my course and this entire project. There is art coming from all around the world, surrounded by the Chertsey Tiles, which are being loaned from the British Museum! I know. It’s going to be insanely amazing! For our semester-long research project, I will be working closely with the Seal of the Latin Emperor Henry Flanders. Although his seal is extremely small, it is still mighty! As I begin putting together my own research as part of this lovely project, I’m lucky to be a part of this magnificent exhibition in any way.

“Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and The Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece.”

Coming up in November, there will also be performances of Iphigenia by Euripides, translated by Holy Cross Classics’ very own Professor Mary Ebbott. (And, my very own Greek professor! Can I get any luckier?) Again. You will not want to miss this! I just bought my ticket, and I hope you will too! 

So, I’m not entirely sure what type of vibe you’re catching, but if you have not got the hint that you should be heading to Holy Cross to check out the Prior Performing Arts Center and these glorious events, you better reread this from the start. This is the start of something great; you can be a part of it! See you there!

Fun Fact: the Prior Performing Arts Center is in the shape of a cross, which you can see through aerial view photography. And there are doors on each side so you can walk into the heart of the center from anywhere. Fitting, if you ask me!

Rushing into Sophomore Year!

Hello fellow Crusaders, friends, family, and everyone in between!

Welcome (back) to my blog! For those who may not know me, my name is Alexandra Berardelli. I’m a sophomore from Brooklyn, New York, studying Classics with an Art History minor. If you’ve been following me on this blog for a while now, you already know about some of the cool things I’ve been keeping up with for the past year. Well, you’re in luck because my time at Holy Cross keeps getting better and better. 

My semester is already looking pretty incredible, and we’re less than a month in. If you’ve been reading, you know by now that I love to be involved on campus with my friends and classes, and I’ve been doing just that. I want to keep this first blog post short and sweet, but I hope that you will follow me along this exciting journey of my second year, knowing that I am constantly learning and open to new opportunities that come my way. Please reach out to me if there is anything, in particular, you would like to see on this blog. Anything is fair game for me! 

That’s all for now! I’ll write again later this week!

Peace out, Crusaders!


Annual First Day of Class Picture!