Kicking Off Collegiate’s 24th Convocation with Kindness

Marking a new school year, Convocation was filled with spirit and pride. 
Spirit — passionate, loud, speckled with green-and-gold zeal — rose from the Collegiate body gathered on Grover Jones Field. Convocation, the School’s annual celebration to kick off the year, had commenced. 

The event began with the entire student body — including Kindergartners perched on top of the Senior buddies’ shoulders, wearing the smile someone wears when they have just made a new lifelong friend — processing class by class onto the football field, with parents, Trustees and faculty and staff joining in on the festivities.  

After reciting the National Anthem, Lower Schoolers introduced Upper School SCA co-president Caroline Smith ’23, who spoke about savoring the small moments of kindness that happen daily at Collegiate. 

“Some of the little things I’m grateful for are the times when a fellow student holds the door open for me as I lug paintings and textbooks around campus, when I get to give tours to new students, when we play mini soccer games in advisory, and when our Upper School joins together to cheer on our peers in their sporting events,” she said. Taking time to be fully absorbed in these little nuggets of joy requires diligence, effort, and, most of all, kindness. “From the crocuses and hyacinths that bloom outside just when winter ends, to spending lunches laughing until I can’t breathe, to answering a question correctly in AP Calculus BC, to early SCA mornings and the fans that cheer at our varsity tennis matches, there are so many things that we all have to be grateful for if we just take the time to notice them.”
Middle School Council co-chairs Rosewell Ferrell ’27 and Jack Porter ’27 took the stage next to deliver their own remarks, which highlighted why Collegiate students and faculty are excited to come to campus each day. “Being in a place that values respect can make you feel safe and more eager to learn, especially if you know that the people around you are there to genuinely help,” Jack said. “This can make students motivated to learn and allow for a more positive learning environment.” 

During Rosewell’s reflections, she likened Convocation to a mesmerizing burst of fireworks. “We are 1,700 sparks of light filling a small space and creating something beautiful together,” she said. “We are the bright lights, the beautiful colors, the big booms that make up the firework show. And, like fireworks, when this is over, the two indications that we were ever here will be the piles of turf and the feeling of community and togetherness.” 

SCA co-president Rohan Agarwal ’23 addressed the audience next and echoed Caroline’s sentiments about the warmth and kindness he feels at the School. “Throughout my time here, I have learned that nothing compares to the community we have here at Collegiate,” he said. “Our community is the perfect combination of competitiveness and selflessness. Everyone treats each other with humility, respect and kindness.” 

Interim Head of School Billy Peebles, facing the cheerful student body from his podium below the field’s bleachers, spoke of the sturdy foundation Collegiate’s values create for the School and how everyone in the community embodies those values with dignity and grace.

“Collegiate strives to stand steadfastly for the right things — those right things captured powerfully in Collegiate’s five core values,” he said. “Honor, love of learning, excellence, respect, community — all five of those values are enormously important and I hope we shall live out all five every day.”

Mr. Peebles concluded Convocation with this charge for the Seniors and everyone present: “As we give away things like grace, like love, like kindness, like friendship, like respect, like gratitude, like forgiveness  — as we give those things to others so often those qualities come back to us many times over.”

After Convocation, Seniors spent time with their Kindergarten buddies in the Lower School, where, singing songs and playing games, they continued their enduring relationship. As the day’s events began to settle and materialize, Hank Shield ’23, sitting with his Kindergarten buddy eating pizza, reflected on his final Convocation as a Collegiate student. “As a younger student, I always watched the Seniors walk at Convocation with their Kindergarten buddies, and now being the Senior walking with my own buddy feels surreal,” he said. “My time as a student has really come full circle.”