Wow! I was told this was an awesome and inspiring day and I am not disappointed!
Last year, I followed Mother Nature and Collegiate in the wild goose chase to find a clear weather date for Convocation. I am grateful for today’s weather and the visual of approximately 2,000 Cougars outdoors on our beautiful campus.
This is an important day and one Collegiate looks forward to in unison. For many of you, indeed for all of our current students, Convocation has “always been a part of Collegiate.” As a newcomer and one who asks questions to better understand and serve, I reached out to a former Head of School Mr. Keith Evans and, just for clarity, we are not related.
How many of you knew that Convocation began in 1999 because of Mr. Evans? If my math is correct, this is our 21st Convocation! An opportunity for the community to come together to hold a mirror up and see a reflection of itself. I think we look great; but more importantly, because of you all, I think we are great!
Collegiate is about students, faculty and the human connections created on this campus and beyond. From JK-12th Grade, you and our talented and devoted professionals – our faculty and staff – make the magic of Collegiate visible and something we can feel.
Today we will have high-fives, piggyback rides, music and school spirit to showcase the pure, raw and real emotions of love and joy for which our School is known.
However, just like the flowers carried at graduation, plants in the Lower School and meditation garden, a live Cougar or flame carried in a torch, we must care for and nurture Collegiate with a shared sense of purpose. We must act with a commitment to each other and the greater world. Our motto “parat, ditat, erat" calls us to prepare, enrich and endure.
Collegiate is known for and wants to be known for creating and celebrating Responsible Citizenship. I hope you all know that being good people and enriching the lives of others is our shared vision. It is the most important reason why I, and so many of the professionals who work and families who send their children here, have chosen to join this community.
The day I wrote this, the third day of school, I saw 4th Graders bringing their recess equipment back to their rooms. Putting things where they belong as Responsible Citizens.
I remembered my interactions with two Middle Schoolers and a teacher, moving through sad feelings about wanting to be included in an after-school opportunity. Peers helping each other through tough times and a caring and trusted adult being a supportive listener, buoying each other as Responsible Citizens.
On that day, I stood with 9th-12th Graders consoling a Kindergartner who did not feel comfortable taking a photo in a big group of strangers. Tending to the feelings and needs of others as Responsible Citizens.
The very same day, I chatted with two 4th Graders, who found their way to my office to follow up on a promise that was made before the school year began, and I was greeted with handshakes and introductions. Manners and keeping one’s word as Responsible Citizens.
When I asked these two 4th Graders about Convocation and what it was all about, they told me that it was special because the big kids and little kids come together in a way where every grade feels important and a part of the shared community. I asked them to describe how it felt. These young men said the ground shakes because the music and the cheering is so loud! I asked them what colors come to mind when thinking about Convocation and they said, almost in unison, Green and Gold.
So, here we are, in a space that celebrates you, our community, and has anticipation and joy embedded in the ground that will soon shake beneath our bodies.
What comes to my mind is something I shared with the faculty and staff at our welcome back meeting: Green and Gold represent more than our School colors.
Green means what, a stoplight? Go, that is correct. Gold or yellow means what at a stop light, yes, caution or pause – rest.
Let’s go forward with green, let’s pause with gold, and consider how the small moments make the big lessons more possible.
And let’s do so as Collegiate Cougars.
Let’s break that word down letter by letter, shall we?
S-This is where my version of spelling is creative and, yes, I know the word I am thinking of begins with a "c," but sitizens sounds like an "s" and works with the spelling of Cougars.
So Confidently Observe Understand And Go As Responsible Sitizens.
Being a Collegiate Cougar is not about knowing you are right in your way of being and opinions, but seeking to understand others. It’s about respectfully listening to everyone so that we might learn from others.
Whether taking in your recess equipment, welcoming a new classmate, helping an upset person, keeping a promise, or improving the world by picking up some trash, watering a plant or creating a garden for others, being a Responsible Citizen, and therein growing the good at Collegiate and beyond, depends upon caring about others and knowing others.
What better way to show this than to think about the relationships of our Kindergartners and senior buddies.
I thank Mr. Evans for planting the seed of this wonderful tradition and to each of you for carrying the vision forward as we continue our work as a community of learners. You – every single one of you – matters and are essential to our shared big work.
So, seniors, please stand. I charge you, Class of 2020, as leaders, along with all of you in this splendid space, let’s go forward with green, let’s pause with gold, and consider how the small moments make the big lessons more possible if we act as Cougars and confidently observe to understand and go as Responsible Citizens into the year ahead and into the wider world.
- Penny Evins, Head of School