The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

All-school Convocation marks beginning of new school year

Ed Hu
Nyla Shelton ’24, Elizabeth Johnstone ’24, Glory Ho ’24, Ryan Cheng ’24, Print Managing Editor Davis Marks ’24 and Bari LeBari ’24 stand on the Convocation stage after being robed.

Students and faculty assembled on Ted Slavin Field for Convocation on Aug. 23 to welcome in the 2023-2024 school year. The event included the robing ceremony for both Senior and Head Prefects elected for the upcoming year, and speeches from President Rick Commons, Head of School Laura Ross and Head Prefects Bari LeBari ’24 and Print Managing Editor Davis Marks ’24.

In the opening speech, Ross said self-reflection and forgiveness are good practices to adopt into daily life.

“We need to try and be present and recognize that each moment is precious, and we have to be there to create each experience and appreciate what it can bring, instead of always being focused on the future,” Ross said. “You can take a minute to forgive yourself for things you could have perhaps done better. People confuse excellence with perfection. And I worry that students sometimes internalize that too, that they somehow failed or are not right for this.”

LeBari said in his speech that seeing things with a positive attitude despite the challenges of life is important.

“All I know is that life is difficult,” LeBari said. “It’s hard. And I love Harvard-Westlake so much, but it can be difficult. You might stumble, you might even fall and most likely you’re going to find failure many, many, many times. [But] when you slip, when you trip, when you stumble and fall and fail, always remember this: it will be okay.”

In his speech, Marks said defining excellence in a way that focuses on community and kindness is essential.

“You can have a meaningful experience here without being the absolute best at what you do, or constantly maintaining a cheerful attitude,” Marks said. “By dropping preconceived notions, we are able to live in the moment and appreciate the simple joys that often go unnoticed. Those little moments allow you to embrace this committee and grow as a person alongside the people you are sitting next to right now. Excellence means being great at the little things that truly matter. The bonds we create, the empathy we demonstrate, and the kindness we extend to others, whether they’re a close friend or not, is the legacy that will endure far beyond any academic or extracurricular achievement.”

At the end of the ceremony, Commons said forming relationships and being there for one another is the most important part of being at the school.

“The recurring theme in the week of meetings and training that the faculty and staff just went through to prepare for the start of this school year was this idea that connection is more important than content,” Commons said. “More important than all the content are the connections that you will make this year with your teachers and your classmates.”

Cameron Cretaro ’24 said as a senior, Convocation felt extra special.

“My favorite part about convocation was probably the Krispy Kreme at the end, but I also liked seeing everyone on campus, grades 7-12 all together,” Cretaro said. “Though it can get hot sitting in the sun, I do feel that Convocation is the perfect way to start off the Harvard-Westlake school year.”

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Everett Lakey, Assistant News Editor

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