The Hun School Marks the Opening of a New Academic Year with Convocation
Students returned to The Hun School campus today smartly dressed to mark the beginning of the 2019 - 2020 academic year. The day began with the freshman book signing and annual Convocation, a celebration of community and the academic endeavors to come. Students heard reflections and encouragement from School leaders including Headmaster Jonathan Brougham and Board Chair Steve Wills, Upper School Head Ryan Hews, Middle School Head Ken Weinstein, and student speakers Milan Moise ’21 and Olivia Spektor ’24.
A strong sense of community and the courage to try new things were the themes woven throughout the speeches delivered to faculty, parents, and a student body of 668, which hails from 25 countries and 18 states.
The ceremony began with a procession of each class and a performance by Kevin Yang ’21, William Hu ’21, and Rammaru Kishitani ’19 of “Youth” by Shawn Mendes. Following their performance, Mr. Brougham asked the senior class to rise, stating, “Class of 2020, you are the leaders of our School. You are going to set the example,” he said. He then countered that by asking the youngest members of the Hun community—the sixth grade—to rise. “You are our future,” he said.
Mr. Brougham went on to list the qualities schools often celebrate, qualities Hun boasts as well, but highlighted our faculty, staff, students and the way we treat one another as the real difference maker.
“Ours is a very personal School, a School focused on people and relationships … We are teachers and staff who love their students, who know and care for them as individuals, who devote themselves entirely for their sake, to inspiring vigor and joy. We are students who bring enormous energy and zest to campus every day, who support one another, who are diverse but who share essential qualities of human goodness and who turn values like respect and kindness into real living things, every day all over our campus.
“So, really, the Hun experience is almost entirely the people gathered right here, right now – who we are, the way we treat one another, the way we connect and influence one another, the relationships we form and the feelings we create.”
Representing the Middle School, Olivia Spektor ’24 spoke about a journey of encouragement and individual support.
“When Mr. Weinstein asked me to give a convocation speech, pride is not the feeling I felt. At first, I had a pit in my stomach. The question ‘Why me?’ received an unhelpful answer from my parents: ‘Why not you?’ So, I started thinking about my journey and the journey I have yet to take, here, at the Hun School. Something happens to people when they come to this place, something almost invisible at first. But then, looking back, the steps we have taken outline the path of your experience. Hun prepared me for this moment, without me even realizing it.
“The Hun community creates an atmosphere which makes it easier to step out of your comfort zone.” Olivia continued, "An environment in which one can be comfortable with their discomfort.”
Milan Moise ’21 echoed Olivia’s comments and rallied the crowd to try new, and different, things, illustrating that sentiment with anecdotes about experiential learning, woodworking, and the surprise of seeing Honors History on her schedule as a freshman.
“I told my advisor that I could not take this class, but she told me to just try it.” Just a few weeks later, Milan laughed when the advisor asked how it was going, because she realized that she had been right to push her.
“Looking back, most of the things that I have loved the most here at Hun are the things I almost didn’t try. Try those things and your experience will be that much better.”
Following the ceremony, faculty and staff lined the walkways to welcome their students to School. Students walked through the receiving line shaking hands, receiving high fives and hugs. They attended abbreviated classes and ended the day with a barbeque and ice cream truck on the Mall.