This morning, faculty, staff, students, trustees, and parents gathered for the school's annual Convocation ceremony. A counterpart to Commencement in the spring, Convocation serves as the ceremonial beginning of the school year. It offers a time to reflect on our core values, consider hopes and goals for the months ahead, and formally recognize the senior class.
While Convocation connects Gill to countless schools and universities that begin the year with a similar address, there are elements of the ceremony unique to GSB. Perhaps most notable is the tradition of having a senior read a children's book to the gathering. By offering a message tailored to the youngest in the school, the tradition reminds us that those in a position of authority have a responsibility to help those still finding their way and to set an example of approachability, kindness, and inclusion.
Another notable piece of the Gill ceremony is the Convocation book itself, which contains the investiture pledge, honor statement, and the signatures of each member of the senior class beginning with the Class of 2012. The book is handmade, and its pages were illuminated by master book artist Rosemary Buczek. In an illuminated manuscript, the words themselves are treated as art. Letters are designed, embellished, hand-colored and often, as in the case of the GSB Convocation book, gilded. Over the past decade, Buczek has produced works for a remarkable range of clients, and in 2009, she created an illuminated version of the Gettysburg address, which was given to President Obama. Each year, as our seniors inscribe their names in what is affectionately called the "big book" on campus, they add a part of themselves to something beautiful and enduring.
While each Convocation ceremony follows tradition—complete with bag pipes, a processional, and the singing of the alma mater—each is also a unique reflection of that year's graduating class and the times in which we live. At this morning's event, one theme common among all the speakers was "live life in person," a phrase Rowell used in his address.
In her opening remarks, Upper School Director Sue Petrone considered our increasing tendency to get lost in our smart phones when we are waiting for something. Petrone shared her hope for the students that they take those times as an opportunity to talk with people around them or to think and reflect.
Afterward, Anna Tulenko '19 read Linda Kranz' children's book Only One You to the gathering. Among the book's pieces of wisdom, "Always be on the lookout for a new friend," and "Set aside some quiet time to relax and reflect every day," resonated especially well with Petrone's opening remarks.
In Head of School Sid Rowell's Convocation address
, he stressed that the beginning of the school year offers a chance for a fresh start, something that posting our lives online tends to make impossible. Through reflections on summer reading, lessons from history, current events and the lives of the recently-deceased Aretha Franklin and John McCain, Rowell drew out the importance of being present, digging deeper in our coursework and our conversations and never settling for the soundbite in lieu of the full story.
Following Rowell's remarks, Chair of the Board of Trustees Janine Udoff inducted five new trustees to the board: Lee Amoroso P '11, '13, '19; Marcella Criscola P '26, '27, '30; Tom Fischer P '16;
Matthew Harding '81; and Karen Young P '21, '21, '25.
Afterward, Rowell presented the Class of 2019, and each of its 90 members inscribed his or her name in the big book.