Underneath the Crown: A Look At the Likes and Lives of the 2023 Winter Week Court


Grace Loonan, Freelance Editor

It’s getting to be that time of year again, when chants of House pride echo through the big gym, uniforms are replaced with colorful costumes, toasts are performed, and even the school building itself is dressed up with stunning decorations. During this centuries-old week of festivities, one ceremony stands out. Even the squabbles that follow House dodgeball dissipate momentarily as everyone joins together to celebrate the Coronation of the Winter Week Queen and her court. The 2023 Winter Week Queen is Tess Cavanaugh, and the four Princesses are Elsa Bildsten, Anna Farley, Colleen Noonan, and Isabella Tucker. These five seniors were chosen by their classmates on the year which marks the 150th anniversary of our school. They were chosen to lead the way as shining examples of the senior class of 2023, as they are led by the legacy of the young women who have gone before them as members of past courts. Let’s take a closer look at the lives and interests of each of these five leaders, in this second annual publishing of “Underneath the Crown.”


Elsa Bildsten (Princess)


As a member of Peer Mentors and Vice President of the Senior Class, Elsa enjoys putting her ideas into practice at Vis. She also helps out with the Writing Center and competes in Track and Field in the spring. Outside of school, Elsa has done gymnastics for fifteen years, and this year will be her last season. She practices a total of twelve hours every week, and this doesn’t include the time she spends at competitions during the winter/spring competitive season. When Elsa isn’t at gymnastics, she likes to bake, and her favorite treat to make is cupcakes. Her other hobbies include reading, doing her own nails, and walking her dog, Athena, who’s an Australian Boxherd. Elsa works at the Caribou in Roseville on Sunday nights, and everyone should pop out to visit her! One aspect of Vis that Elsa appreciates is how passionate the teachers are about the subjects they teach. Teachers at Vis genuinely care about their students and the content of their lessons, which Elsa finds to be really nice. Elsa recalled her favorite memory from freshman year to be her long study sessions with friends in preparation for Señora Mancebo’s Spanish tests. They would make huge stacks of notecards, and although the tests were difficult, the studying part was very memorable. As a member of the Senior Class Council, Elsa is excited to be on the Winter Week planning committee this year! Her favorite part of Winter Week has always been the Coronation because she likes to hear what the Queen and Princesses say to their friends and family. She also enjoys seeing the school decorated on Friday. Lastly, Elsa wanted to share that, as a fan of the show, The Summer I Turned Pretty, she is Team Conrad all the way!! Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. 🙂 


Tess Cavanaugh (Queen)


At school, Tess commits her time to three main activities: theater, nordic skiing, and lacrosse. As a captain for both nordic and lacrosse, Tess is also a member of Peer Mentors and a part of Eucharistic Ministry. Tess would like to join other clubs as well, but she just doesn’t have the time. She does however, enjoy volunteering at Ascension Catholic School, which is her Vis service site. Outside of school, Tess plays club lacrosse. She is a Peer Minister for her church, St. Joan of Arc, where she organizes social events and leads retreats. She is also a camp counselor for the various camps she goes to in the summer. When asked to describe something she likes about Vis, Tess talked about the small, but mighty Vis community. The words had barely left her mouth when several underclassmen who were walking by waved and exclaimed, “hey Tess!” Tess loves the people at Vis, and the people at Vis love her. She is grateful for the connections she is able to build here. When Tess first came to Vis, she participated in the fall show, in which she was introduced to the VISTA theater community. As a freshman, she got to know this large group of role models who showed her who she wanted to be. Tess is so honored to have been chosen as Winter Week Queen by the people who have shaped her into the person she is today. Her favorite part of Winter Week has always been dodgeball – it’s not even a question! Let’s GO Summerset Gators (her words, not mine)! Tess also would like to remind everyone that a third season of Outer Banks is coming out in February!! She’s super excited to watch it!


Anna Farley (Princess)


At school, Anna enjoys swimming, playing golf, being a part of Peer Mentors, and participating in lots of clubs. She leads Investment Club and Rock Club, and she appreciates how Vis girls join everything. As a member of the Vis swim team, Anna loves being part of such a supportive, close-knit group that has a ton of fun. Outside of school, Anna commits to club swimming. She’s also a coach at Clownfish, a swim club for kids and adults with disabilities, and one of the swimmers she coaches is Ms. Burg’s daughter!! For the last two summers, Anna has worked at Sweet Science Ice Cream, which she described as good, but a little overpriced. She enjoyed getting free ice cream there, but she’s having doubts about returning as an employee this summer. What Anna really likes about Vis are the people here. She appreciates having teachers who know their students well enough to ask them niche questions about their lives, and passing time is often a highlight of her day. She can tell that staff and students alike genuinely care about her. Thinking back to freshman year, Anna recalled a favorite memory being the time she spent in the Athletic Foyer with friends during Flex. She remembers watching movies and having dance parties there before the pandemic. Anna is excited for all of the festivities of Winter Week, including queen skits and the coronation, and she especially can’t wait to decorate the school with the seniors on Thursday night. There is one last fact that Anna needed to share with the Vis community, and that is her expertise and obsession with Square Stacker, from Cool Math Games. She thinks that everyone should play it because it’s super fun!


Colleen Noonan (Princess)


Colleen participates in the VISTA orchestra and Peer Mentors at Vis. After school, she goes directly to dance, where she practices for four hours on weekdays (except Tuesdays) and for longer than that on Saturdays. At dance, Colleen works on ballet technique, point, a little bit of modern and jazz, and choreography for dance shows. Right now, she is preparing for her showcase in April. In addition to dancing year round, Colleen takes violin lessons. She has two younger siblings and a 4.5-year-old cavachon named Leo. Something that Colleen really likes about Vis is its small size. Colleen knows and has relationships with so many of the people here, and she appreciates the environment where she can say “hi” to everyone in the hallway and have conversations in the lunch line. Aside from the relaxation and me-time that came with Quarantine in the spring, Colleen’s favorite memory from freshman year was her Spanish 1 class taught by Señora Mancebo. Throughout the year, Colleen grew to love Señora and accumulated many inside jokes with the teacher and the class. This year, Colleen is excited to dress up for Winter Week, and she shared that her favorite day is Friday. She enjoys seeing the school decorated, watching (and this year, participating in) the Coronation, and eating the lunch that is traditionally very delicious on Friday. Lastly, Colleen would just like to say how much she enjoyed the Costa Rica trip that she went on with other Vis students last summer. She believes it’s a testament to Vis that the 19 rising juniors and seniors on the trip were placed into cabins and dorms randomly and were able to bond after a week of living together.


Isabella Tucker (Princess)


As a member of VISTA theater and Chief Editor for the yearbook, Isabella enjoys expressing her artistic side through outlets offered at Vis. She also plays tennis and has been a part of Leadership since sophomore year. Isabella likes to try new activities because it allows her to connect with different groups of people and experience different areas of the school. Outside of Vis, Isabella is an avid reader and photographer. She took some of her friends’ senior pictures, and she sees herself continuing her photography as a hobby later in life. Isabella is also fascinated with animation, especially in Disney movies. She even took a class in animation, which she found really interesting. Isabella’s favorite aspect of Vis is the fact that it is an all-girls school. She appreciates how every part of the Vis community centers around girls, and there isn’t an activity or club that girls lean away from. She finds the atmosphere at Vis to be very welcoming, and she has been able to make so many great friends, which she attributes to the kindness of the people in this school. Her favorite memory from freshman year is engaging in Catholic zumba at assembly every week. As a freshman, Isabella was a little unsure at first about the school-wide dances to Christian pop songs, which she wasn’t expecting to be doing in high school. However, after watching the upperclassmen jump right in, she followed their lead and had a lot of fun. Looking ahead to Winter Week, Isabella remembers when the seniors put up Disney-themed decorations around the school her freshman year, and she’s excited to help decorate now. Coming into high school, Isabella never expected to be on the Winter Week court, and she is excited and honored to be chosen this year.