Amidst a chorus of “oohs” and “ahs” every Monday, you’ll find Quintin Gay ’19. Gay has become the third face of the Michael Monday tradition. Every monday, Gay will come to school in his wackiest, goofiest attire. His predecessors have been able to stand out in a crowd dressed as Elvis, a 1960’s pimp, Peter Pan, and even wore dresses and tiaras. This year that task falls onto Gay.
Michael Mondays were started by Michael Janssen ’15. The first time Janssen dressed up was for German fashion show at the end of his Sophomore year. “There was a fashion show for German and I decided to wear a dress for that. And then, the next couple of weeks, I just wore little items, like socks with capes. My junior year I just decided; ‘You know? I’ll just do this,’” Janssen said in a 2016 interview.
Michael decided to dress up every Monday, not just for the alliteration ‘Michael Mondays’, but to help ease the stress a new week brings. “Mondays suck. So, don’t let Mondays suck,” said Janssen.
This was the beginning of a weekly tradition of dressing up in outrageous costumes and outfits. He was getting a lot of attention every Monday and loving the reactions he was getting, but the reactions weren’t always positive, “I just kind of played it off like nothing’s wrong, but people eventually caught on, and then most comments turned from ‘Why are you wearing that?’ to ‘That’s cool, I like it.’” said Janssen.
As people began to catch on, a lot of Janssen’s peers and even Wash teachers would look forward to seeing his Monday outfits. Sometimes students would peek into the class he was in just to see what he was wearing. He would always see students and faculty faces light up as he walked down the hall every Monday. “In most of my classes people knew what to expect, but the underclassmen in the hallway would be like, ‘oh my gosh, what’s that guy wearing?!’” said Janssen
Janssen had band first period every day, the band was the first group to catch on to this tradition. The band helped spread news to the entire school, solidifying this little joke as a great tradition. “I think most of the band definitely knew what it was, and I think they probably spread it around when people asked. Like, ‘Why is that kid wearing something goofy?’ And then band kids would be like, ‘Yeah, it’s a thing.’” said Janssen.
The tradition continued after Janssen’s 2015 graduation when Caleb Kleman ’18 took over the tradition his sophomore year. Caleb Kleman became the new face of Michael Mondays in his second year at Wash. Kleman, another band student, loved seeing Janssen first thing every monday morning and decided to carry on the tradition, because of the joy it brought him at the start of every week. “I thought Mondays had gotten really boring, and Mondays are hard anyways, and I just thought it would be kind of fun to just carry on this tradition. I think I’m the one doing it right now because I was the first one to ask Michael.” Kleman said in a 2016 interview.
Both Kleman and Janssen struggled coming up with fresh ideas every week. They both reused parts of previous outfits but refused to recycle a full outfit. “Recently, I got some stuff that Michael had worn before,” Kleman said “There are random bits of old outfits all over my house.”
Kleman and Janssen both relied heavily on second hand stores to find their outfits. Their families would scour various Goodwills, Salvation Armies, and Plato’s Closets for weird articles of clothing. “My mom would just go to Goodwill and grab a whole bunch of stuff,” said Janssen.
Although the tradition was passed from Michael to Caleb, their goals stayed the same, to entertain their friends and make Mondays a little better. “[I dress up weirdly] for the entertainment of other people, and myself. It’s kind of like a fun way to start off the week, and it is now a tradition at Washington High School–starting of course with Michael Janssen.” Kleman said.
This year, a new chapter of Michael Mondays has begun as Quintin Gay ’19 takes over this tradition. After watching Kleman dressing up in costumes every monday for all three years of his high school career, Gay took over. Kleman was searching for someone to pass the reigns onto when he decided on Quintin. “One fateful night last year, I got a Snapchat from Caleb Kleman that said, ‘Quintin, I have a very important question to ask you in person, can I come over?’ and then a few minutes later, Caleb Kleman was at my front door dressed in a toga. I let him into my house and he said, ‘Quintin, will you take upon the honor of continuing the Michael Monday tradition?’ and I said it would be my honor,” said Gay.
Just a few weeks into the year, Gay was already seeing people react positively to his outrageous outfits. He has noticed all the positives that come with this tradition and has noticed the diverse range of students who appreciate this tradition. “Even though I’ve only done it a few times, teachers and students are always asking me what my costume is, why I’m doing it, and giving me ideas for other costumes and what they think of it. So I think it’s something that a lot of the people in the school, especially people that I wouldn’t otherwise talk to can get excited about.” Gay said.
As the tradition has been passed on, so have various articles of clothing. Although Gay’s predecessors would never reuse a full costume, it wasn’t uncommon to see them in a familiar article of clothing. As time has passed, it has become harder to not repeat costumes and ideas but Gay hopes that he won’t have to reuse an old costume. “Caleb gave me two big tubs of costumes that he has collected over the years. One of the tubs had just random costume parts and accessories and in the other tub was little plastic bags of pre-completed costumes,” Gay said. “I can be inspired from their old ideas.”
Michaels Mondays has evolved and grown since its inception in 2013. It has become a beloved Warrior tradition as students have started to expect one of their peers to dress outrageously every Monday. Despite the torch being passed down once again, and preparing to be passed down next year, the core values of this tradition have remained constant; to brighten students days and weeks every monday and attempt to bring a little more joy to the school week. “Dear Michael Janssen, I think it was a great and goofy idea and I’m glad you did such a great job with it that other students like Caleb and I wanted to continue it.” Gay said.