After a night of blustery rain, strong winds, and flash flooding from Hurricane Ida, GSB celebrated its Convocation this morning to officially commemorate the school year’s start for the Class of 2022. With sunny skies overhead, seniors processed into the Performing Arts & Community Center, led by Dean of Faculty Irene Mortensen and bagpipers from St. Ann’s of Hampton Pipes & Drums. Inside the PACC, parents of seniors gathered for this time-honored tradition, along with fellow Upper School students, while Lower and Middle School students and other members of the GSB community watched via livestream.
In his opening remarks, Upper School Director Joel Coleman welcomed students, parents, teachers, trustees, alumni, and staff – some in person and some watching remotely – to the unique and special place that is Gill St. Bernard’s. Dr. Coleman invoked Claude Bernard, a 19th Century French physiologist, who said, “The stability of the internal environment is the condition for the free and independent life.” As well as describing the scientific phenomenon called homeostasis, this quote also provides advice for living. “Translating a little differently, we can restate his assertion: that stability or constancy on the inside is necessary to live a free and independent life on the outside,” said Dr. Coleman. “We need to be balanced within ourselves in order to balance life with others.”
In keeping with yet another GSB Convocation tradition, Robert DeVergillo '22 read a children’s picture book for the assembled guests. Anything Is Possible, by Guilia Belloni, tells the story of a sheep who wanted to soar like a bird and worked diligently to build a flying machine. During his convocation remarks, Head of School Sid Rowell circled back to the story’s themes: “With the help of her friend the wolf, they start building. Their first effort crashes. Again and again, they fail. Yet, instead of giving up, the sheep rethinks her invention and redesigns it. Persistence, or grit, in the face of failure is an important part of the learning process. Setbacks can teach us much, if we are willing to learn from them.”
Mr. Rowell also touched on the unpredictability of the times, with the weather, and the pandemic in particular, and reiterated the school’s commitment to adhere to health protocols so that classes remain in-person. “Working together will be an essential requirement for our school as we continue to move forward,” he said. “We certainly live-in challenging times, and it is easy to get caught up in the negative narrative, or in plain language, all that is wrong. I suppose this is why I have come to believe that Optimism is a moral choice. It is a decision I hope more will embrace this academic year.”
Next, Board of Trustees Chair Doug Matthews P`16, `18, `24 officially welcomed the new trustees who joined GSB leadership this year: Keisha Audain-Pressley P`25, Brenda Liberti P`24, `26, Emily Maillet P`29, and Antoinette Segreto P`32, `32.
Following the presentation of the Class of 2022, the Senior Investiture Ceremony was led by Assistant Upper School Director & Director of College Guidance Kerri Ann Small. Then Dean of Student Life David Pasquale invited students to sign the Senior Registry. Each member of the Class of 2022 pledged to “work at all times for the good of the school, and strive to exemplify the characteristics of faith, honor, and consideration in keeping with our school’s worthy traditions.” The ceremony then concluded with the GSB Alma Mater.
Best wishes to the Class of 2022, for a happy, healthy, and productive academic year!
While Convocation remains an important event for our school, Gill St. Bernard’s is mindful that our celebration took place after severe weather had a major impact on our local area and beyond. GSB will be working to find ways to help those in need, both within our community and our state. We have a strong history of response in difficult times and will once again do all that we can for those in need.