While a traditional Convocation Ceremony marks the beginning of a new academic year, this year’s Convocation held additional significance. Monday, September 13th was the official start to “Her at Hun,” a year-long celebration honoring the 50th Anniversary of co-education at the School. In honor of this historic milestone, Hun School trustee and accomplished business leader Alicia Tillman ’93 gave the keynote address and five alumnae from the first female classes joined the ceremony.
The ceremony began with Head of School Jon Brougham introducing the five returning alumnae to the rest of the Hun community. He thanked them not only for being present but for paving the way for current female students.
“These women were cum laude students, they wrote for The Mall, they were on the student council, Janus Players, athletes, and more … They took this place by storm. I would say the year they joined The Hun School of Princeton is the most important year in the School’s history. Not only did our enrollment increase, but so did our energy, our diversity, and our talent. We became a school that influenced the lives of young women, and these women certainly were a big influence on us.
"Thank you for joining us, thank you for being brave enough to be pioneers in an all-male school, and thank you for the path that you began to forge for the girls that are with us today.”
Convocation was also the first time in eighteen months the school community, previously in Hybrid learning, had gathered all together in one place. Mr. Brougham ended his opening remarks by sharing with students his excitement for this moment and all that The Hun School has to look forward to this year:
“For the first time in over a year, we have the gift of not having to be apart,” he said. “We all get to be on campus together and we can connect, make memories, and enjoy our company together. Not only is this year going to be a year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of girls and women at Hun, but we also get to enjoy the opening of our brand new DAYLO STEM Center and Breen Performing Arts Center.”
Keynote speaker and Hun School alumna, Alicia Tillman ’93 delivered a few remarks that left students eager to begin the year. Ms. Tillman was adamant throughout her speech that this year will be a game-changing year for The Hun School. And to prepare students for what this year will hold, she had a few simple words of advice:
“Be that girl. Be that boy. Be that person who is going to change the world, who is going to be the leader that others look up to, who is going to have a huge imprint on issues and a purposeful say in change. Because that is what it’s all about, and it begins right here, right now.”
Ms. Tillman encouraged students to show up each day, and take each day by storm, because each day holds the opportunity to change the rest of their lives.
“When I was a student here, my formula for success was simple,” she said. “Every single day, I showed up. I understood that that one day, that one single day, could potentially change my life. It is in these moments that you will come to understand who you are.”
Ms. Tillman directed her attention to the five women from the classes of 1971-1976, “Look at the women who changed the face of this school fifty years ago. They made a choice to walk through Russell hall and onto this lawn. That choice created a moment that changed the course of their lives and it definitely changed many of yours.”
As Ms. Tillman’s eyes grazed the crowd of The Hun School’s largest student body yet, comprised of 668 students hailing from 20 countries and 11 states, she affirmed for students that today, they took the first step in making this school year a game-changing year:
“Today, you showed up,” she said. “Take full advantage of that seat that you are sitting in here at Hun, because there is no other opportunity like it. Recognize that this year is in fact going to be a game changing year. Each of you has the chance to be that girl or that boy who got everything they ever wanted and lived happily ever after.”
After a performance of Old Adam, Two Step by William Bolcom on the piano played by Arianna Ding ’22, student speakers Emma Stowe ’26 and Gabriel Huang ’22 delivered speeches that shared the same sentiments of togetherness and belonging.
Emma Stowe ’26 notes that after a year of hybrid learning and social distancing, she is certain that this school year will be one to remember:
“Last year was not a regular year for anyone, we all had to adapt, and making new friends with masks and social distancing was not an easy task,” she said. “As my last year in the Hun Middle School, I cannot wait to get to know everyone and more importantly I can’t wait to get back to the things I love about Hun: going to the dining hall, attending the homecoming bonfire, having the opportunity to struggle to open my locker, watching sporting events, and making new friends.”
Emma ends her remarks by thanking the Hun community for always being a kind and caring community: “As I stand here today, I don’t feel nearly as nervous or scared as I thought I would and it’s because no matter what, I know this community has my back.”
Similarly, Gabriel Huang ’22, student body president, urged students to enjoy the moments they will have with one another and seize every opportunity that The Hun School has to offer:
“I urge all of you to appreciate the time with the people you have around you,” he said. “It takes each one of us to make this community. Embracing our community and our culture of learning in and out of the classroom is the key to having a great year. This year, I challenge you all to enjoy the moments with your classmates, fellow athletes or artists, to join us for social events, sign up for clubs, discover your interests, and appreciate the campus that connects us all.”
Following the ceremony, faculty and staff lined the walkways to Chesebro Academic Building, welcoming students to School. Joyful smiles, high fives, and hugs were commonplace along the recessional line, as well as a special gift to honor the 50th anniversary of girls and women at Hun; each female student received a necklace engraved with the 50th Anniversary’s title, “Her at Hun;” faculty and students also chose from commemorative t-shirts and water bottles.