Pretzels, new mission highlight opening convocation

Sammi Handler

During the second ever all-school opening convocation Tuesday, President Rick Commons announced the new mission statement, focusing on community and a joyful pursuit of excellence.

Commons first cited the four cornerstones of the mission statement with the words: community, excellence, integrity, and purpose. The acronym E-P-I-C, which Athletic Director Jason Kelly came up with, is quick way to remember them, he said in his speech.

The statement is now 26 words, in contrast to the prior 94, and adds the word “joyful.” He said that he wanted students’ pursuit of excellence to be joyful throughout our daily routines.

“What I am asking of all of us this morning is that we live [the words of the mission statement],” Commons said.

In the same vein, Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts also referred to the concept of community within her opening remarks, mentioning the school’s long-standing traditions dating back to Harvard and Westlake.

“Here all together in one place, we are reminded of the strength of our community – we can because we think we can,” Huybrechts said during her speech.

As tradition states, each senior prefect was robed by their faculty sponsors, followed by speeches from the head prefects Albert Choi ’15 and Sara Winshel ’15.

Choi challenged the student body to try something new despite the possibility of failure. He described his own experience from seventh grade when he tried out for football even though he alluded himself as a “math nerd.”

“I have one message for you: March onto that field. Never let fear stop you,” Choi said.

Winshel said that during the summer she bought what she described as a cheesy hat that reads, “Some days you have to make your own sunshine” She encouraged the community to find what makes each individual happy and to “find your own sunshine.”

Commons closed the ceremony by announcing a pretzel reception, an idea inspired by his ninth grade English class last year who suggested that they would have enjoyed having more time to mingle.