Collegiate’s Most Valuable Cougar Honored During Convocation

A new statue graces the campus of Collegiate School in honor of a man Head of School Steve Hickman proclaimed Collegiate’s Most Valuable Cougar today during Convocation, the annual start-of-school event.

Positioned between Jacobs Gym and Seal Athletic Center, the bronze likeness of a cougar will serve as a reminder of Alex Smith ‘65, Vice President of Development, who retired in late August after a 47-year tenure that including raising more than $160 million for Collegiate.

Before he was surprised with this special gift, Mr. Smith joined a throng of faculty, staff and parents on Grover Jones Field to watch the student procession begin. As is tradition, seniors were the last to enter, with their kindergartners on their shoulders or walking hand in hand.

As each class filed in for the 18th annual Convocation ceremony, the football field transformed into a sea of green and gold.

“I am convinced that all would be right in the world if everything could be draped in green and gold,” Mr. Hickman said as he opened the ceremony.

Mr. Hickman introduced the senior class co-presidents, Kyle Riopelle and Kate Surgner, who spoke to the crowd.

Kyle urged his fellow students to find the joy in everything they do.

“Time is too short not to enjoy your experience here,” he said. “Collegiate allows you to prepare for the future and be fulfilled at the same time.”

Kyle, wearing the same green and gold cape his mother made for him as a kindergartner attending his first Convocation, presented his Kindergarten buddy with his own cape to wear proudly in future Convocation ceremonies. He then charged the 4th Grade class to be leaders of the Lower School saying, “I know you’re going to be great.”

Kate Surgner also remembered being carried piggyback style into Convocation by her senior 12 years ago. She went on to tell the student body to value the relationships they have with their teachers and to ask for help when it’s needed. Kate called out her Upper School math teacher, Sally Williams, thanking her for always being there.

“She’s someone I talk to every day,” she said. “And I’m going to be sad that I won’t see her next year,” she said.

Kate asked the 8th Grade class to stand as she called on them to be leaders of the Middle School.

“Don’t pass up the opportunities we have here,” she said. “Be unafraid to ask for help from your teachers. They want to see you happy and see you graduate having accomplished everything you want to do.”

Mr. Hickman then took the stage to tell the story of Alex Smith, who in his nearly 50-year career, performed as Superman and transformed the School into what it is today. Calling Mr. Smith, his wife Gail and granddaughters Maddie Jewett and Izzie Jewett to the stage to help unveil the cougar statue, he dedicated it to Mr. Smith.

“It is only fitting that we honor our Most Valuable Cougar with a cougar that will stand the test of time,” Mr. Hickman said.

To close the ceremony, Mr. Hickman asked the Class of 2017 to stand and rendered advice to them as leaders of the School that in many ways reflected Mr. Smith’s Collegiate tenure as a student, faculty member and administrator:

“The Collegiate flame is in your hands. “Raise it high and keep it burning brightly.”