By Rain Ji ’19
The Gunnery formally began its 169th school year with Convocation on September 7, 2018. Following a formal dinner, the student body and faculty members headed up to the Meeting House on the Green for the Convocation service.
Mr. Becker began the Convocation with a lighthearted story regarding the Red Sox and the Yankees. He recounted a time when Mrs. Becker’s aunt said to Mr. Becker, “I’m sorry that the Yankees are having a rough season,” and Mr. Becker said it felt as if someone was “squeezing lemon juice on the wound.” He used the story to point out the importance of language, urging the school to be intentional with their language, and to be kind to each other when speaking. This anecdote had a deep meaning that pushed everyone to think about the power of language, and how we should be using it in our day-to-day life on campus.
The Head Prefect for the 2018-2019 school year, Maddie Aitken ‘19, also delivered a speech sharing her experience and wisdom with the school. In her speech, she urged students to “think about who you are and who you want to be when you graduate.” Maddie also provided advice for each grade.
She advised the freshmen that “these are pretty much going to be the most formative and influential years of your life,” and assured them that they “have picked a pretty special place to spend those years.” For sophomores, Maddie suggested that they should take advantage of “no longer [being] the youngest,” but also not having the academic stress as an upperclassmen. Maddie related that junior year was very difficult, and she encouraged all juniors to “work hard, ask for help and think about the impact you want to make before you leave next year.” Lastly, she pressed seniors to “enjoy this place and make this the best year yet.”
After Maddie’s insightful speech, the Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning, Mrs. Gum, announced the academic awards. She first recognized the Top Scholar of the graduated class of 2018, Mark Choi, with Meiye Song in second place. Mrs. Gum then announced the winners of the Top Scholar prizes for the senior, junior, and sophomore class. The Top Scholars were Rain Ji ‘19, Erica Zhang ‘20 and Jack Gleason ‘21. According to Erica Zhang ’20, she was “so surprised and really appreciated it.” She would like to thank her teachers and her advisor Mrs. Ince who supported her last year. Jack Gleason ‘21 would also like to thank all his friends, teachers and parents for making sure he was “on track.”
The most exciting part of the night is often the recognition of hardworking teachers at The Gunnery through different prizes. This year, the Tisch Chair for Excellence in Teaching went to Mr. Clemente, the Hamilton Gibson Chair For Humanities went to Mr. Theobald, and the Noto Family Chair For Dedicated Service went to Mr. Trundy.
Ms. Hart – a history teacher, dorm parent and active coach on campus – received the Class of ’55 Distinguished Teacher Award for Emerging Excellence this year. Her speech revolved around the tagline “never stop exploring.” To her, the tagline does not just apply to when she is traveling. Ms. Hart shared lessons with the school community about what she learned along her journey to write the convocation speech. She first affirmed everyone that as long as you “leave yourself open, […] you are capable of so much more than you believe in this moment.” Ms. Hart then went on to tell an anecdote about her boarding school roommate, who she did not get along with in the beginning. But both of them gave each other a chance, and developed a profound friendship. From the story, she hoped to show us that “if you start by being kind and give people the time, eventually they will reveal their surprises, the wonderful and the difficult.”
Lastly, she advised us to always “begin again” in face of failures. Ms. Hart shared with the school a time when she fell during a run. But she managed to learn from the failure, and she will keep running because the important thing is to “keep on going and growing.” Her speech motivated our entire school community to think about what and how they would like to explore everything The Gunnery provides.