Students attend first all-school convocation

Noa Yadidi

The first-ever all-school opening convocation this morning was highlighted by the announcement of this year’s motto, the investiture of President Rick Commons and the prefects and speeches by Commons and the Head Prefects.

All middle school teachers and students were bused to the Upper School after first period to attend the 10 a.m. convocation outdoors on Ted Slavin Field.

Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts planned to begin convocation by announcing “from caring comes courage” as the motto for the 2013-2014 school year.

“If there is a single virtue that you’re going to need all through your life, it is courage,” she said. “The nice thing about courage is that you can cultivate it, you can get more, if you didn’t have courage the last time you can have it next time.”

Huybrechts said she knew she wanted to emphasize courage this year, but could not find the appropriate phrase. She almost chose the word courage to stand alone until she found Chinese Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu’s quote that dates back to 500-600 BCE.

“You can always get more courage,” Huybrechts said. “I think of the people that I most admire and they all have that quality in common, they were courageous. That’s courageous sometimes in jumping in and being the first to do something and courageous sometimes in saying no, no more.”

Huybrechts said the all-school convocation, which included all students from seventh to 12th grade, was an idea proposed by Head of Athletics Terry Barnum almost two years ago. The seventh and 12th grade classes were asked to sit on the bleachers to depict “the beginning of the journey and the end of the journey,” Huybrechts said. Students were also asked to wear school colors in an email sent by Head of Upper School Audrius Barzdukas.
“While I may have been the one to open my mouth, the idea was had by many of us,” Barnum said. “In the nine years that I have worked here, there has never been an instance where every student and every faculty member has been in the same place at the same time. I think if we are one school, it would be nice to say that at some point, we are all in the same place at the same time.”
Huybrechts said she didn’t previously pursue the plan due to logistical difficulties. But this year, with Common’s investiture, would be a good test run so all students could see the investiture, she said.
The investiture was scheduled to be carried out after Huybrechts’ welcome by Board of Trustees Chair Christine Hazy (Steven ’00, Charissa ’03, Trenton ’05, Courtney  ’11) in a similar fashion to that of the traditional prefect investiture. Commons, essentially saying the same words as the prefects, chose to be invested this way, Huybrechts said.
Convocation was planned to continue with Commons investing the prefects, followed by speeches from Head Prefects Henry Hahn ’14 and Ashley Sacks ’14 and Commons, who was to conclude the assembly.
“If this works, perhaps this will be a new tradition,” Huybrechts said.