New Hampton School's 197th Convocation ceremony marks the beginning of a series of memorable events, as the 9th grade class that arrived last week, and officially starts the academic year today, will be the school's bi-centennial class; these students will be the 200th class to graduate from New Hampton School.
Convocation took place indoors in McEvoy Theater due to some rainy skies; however, the energy and spirit of students and speakers was unhampered by the inclement weather. Head of School Joe Williams welcomed the community and quickly set the stage for a meaningful gathering, reminding students that the purpose of a convocation ceremony is to signify the commencement of a community's intellectual pursuits, the official start to the academic year.
After welcoming seven members of the Class of 2018 into the Cum Laude Society (see names below), Eva Hodgson, Student Body Co-President, shared a few remarks and introduced the 2017 Convocation Speaker. Eva briefly reflected on the school theme for the year, Rise Up. "It represents an attitude, a mindset, that we will need to have as we attack every situation. This attitude, along with many other things, will make us unique from other school and communities." Of Meredith Brown, History Department Chair and 2017 O'Connor Teaching in Excellence award winner, Eva shared, "She is in so many ways, an extraordinary woman, an extraordinary teacher, who has done so much for this school and for New Hampton School students."
In a witty and engaging discourse, Ms. Brown spoke to students about failure. Reflecting on her path to her current role as a faculty member, Ms. Brown acknowledged her own failures. "And I failed. Many times. Many, many times. But that is okay. In fact, failure is what kept me going, kept me learning, and that is what I want to talk about this evening."
She also referenced failure in a quote from Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah, the school's shared summer read. "We spend so much time being afraid of failure, being afraid of rejection, but regret is the thing we should fear the most. Failure is an answer, rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to." Ms. Brown encouraged students as they begin the school year, to try; try new things, take risks, and learn from their mistakes. She used our global community as a perfect example of an opportunity to try. She challenged each student to learn to say hello to one of their peers in their language. "You may do it all wrong, you may not be able to wrap your tongue around it… you may make them laugh, but give it a shot."
Student body co-president Patrick Kramer echoed Ms. Brown's encouragement, and call to action. "When I talk to recent alumni, the most sad story I hear is of alumni wishing they had spent their time here differently."
Mr. Williams closed the convocation ceremony with a return to the school theme. He opened the theme Rise Up to many interpretations, but asked students to consider their interpretation on a global level. He referenced recent political events, and the importance of acceptance and inclusivity. "People are also assembling and getting involved…which is a good thing… if it leads us to be a more inclusive and understanding society." He also reiterated the school theme as a call to action, "You have license to interpret the theme in your own way…Understand that we are empowering you to get involved…without concern for failure or judgment…but with an understanding the opportunity surrounds us, and that we need you to be part of the solution to how we Rise Up to be our best."
Congratulations to the following Class of 2018 Cum Laude Society Inductees:
Catherine (Kacenka) Farr Williams
ZeRui (Z) Huo
Zhiqi (Evelyn) Liu
Shaojie (Andres) YangLili (Shirley) Xu