Whether you are a new student or a savvy returning student, each Husky Weekend during Orientation offers something a little different. At its core, it is time to spend together with your class and community. Your advisory group, housemates, friends, and trusted adults are all here. It’s time to set the tone for a fresh new year. To think about goals, both individually and as a group. And it is also time to consider growth as a student, class, and school. But mostly, it is time to get to know each other, to bond, and set intentions. With this year’s school-year theme of “Make It Matter,” it is time to consider how we make the most out of each experience as a community.
A Night Under the Stars
Following the buzz of registration, our freshmen class heads into the woods of nearby Burleigh Mountain for an outdoor experience focused on just them. Leaving the upperclassmen behind and led by many faculty, the evening unfolds with setting up tents, outdoor cooking (and eating!), ice-breakers, games, stories, songs, treats, and laughter around the campfire. This time together helps start their journey in a meaningful way. A common experience to remember throughout their upcoming years at New Hampton—a night just for them.
Enjoying the Lakes and Mountains
On Saturday of Husky Weekend, while freshmen are waking up on Burleigh Mountain, our sophomores, juniors, and seniors prepare for day trips of their own. Sophomores head to Camp Wanakee for ropes course challenges and games, while seniors launch off on boats to get to the island-bound Camp Mayhew for their class excursion. Juniors load up on buses for an excursion into Franconia Notch, climbing the trail to Artist’s Bluff—one of the most photographed views in New England—and then picnicking, kayaking, and swimming the afternoon away at Echo Lake beneath the verdant face of Cannon Mountain. Soon, it is time for all Huskies to return to campus and spend an evening together with all classes and faculty.
Make It Matter
At the end of the weekend, it’s time to switch our mindsets to the scholarly side of school life. Believing that we should begin as we mean to go on, Convocation sets the tone for the academic year. We reflect on our core values—respect and responsibility—our mission, and our school theme for the year. We hear from school leadership, both faculty and students. We reflect on our place in history. And to end it all, we take our formal all-school photo, as we’ve done for generations of students. We know that on Monday, a whole new start takes place in the classrooms, and the wonder of knowledge ignites new conversations and explorations.
This year’s Convocation celebrated purpose and excellence. We welcomed nine new members of the Cum Laude Society: Brady Bernier ’24, Xiyu Jerry Chen ’24, Catherine Gettens ’24, Ashley Holland ’24, Everett Lybrand ’24, Ava Millerick ’24, James Thomson ’24, Xingyu Amanda Wei ’24, and Hanyin Coco Zhang ’24.
Our student body co-presidents shared inspirational themes in their words. First, Brady Bernier ’24 reflected on his early days as a sophomore in a freshmen dorm, Small House, and the early day doubts that parted within a week. Finding a home among teammates, classmates, and housemates made the difference. Bernier also shared his hopes for the year and the school theme.
“I think it’s important we realize this: there is no reason to do something half-heartedly. From a homework assignment to cheering on all the teams. From the first snap of the game to the last act in the play. Even mistakes, make them matter, learn from them, and grow. Now, I’m going to try my best to make this year enjoyable for you all, but I hope you all will also put your best foot forward and enjoy this year.?
Taylor Settles ’24, a four-year senior, welcomed all the returning and new students. She leaned into vulnerability as she shared the story of her younger brother passing away during her sophomore year. “He was someone who had no bad days and is the reason that I make everything I do matter. In the past year of my life, I learned that you need to live every day like it’s your last, and how important it is to take notice and appreciate the little things around you.” A summer’s worth of reflection led her to focus on what matters most in her senior yea—to apply her best effort, to have fun, and help others do the same.
“Don’t be afraid to go out of your way to make an impact on someone else. If someone’s sitting alone at dinner—ask them to join you and your friends, Hold the door for the person behind you, say hi to people when you walk past them—even if you don’t know them! It makes a difference, and you might even make some new friends. It may seem easy to take this with a grain of salt, but whether it’s something small like helping someone carry a package, saying hi in passing, or even giving a friend a ride home for break, you can always make a difference.”
Our featured convocation speaker this year, Ryan Henry, presented his reflections on the theme, tying them to anecdotal personal stories. Connecting his days as a post-graduate student and his first experiences with anxiety and a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, Mr. Henry felt the strong warring challenge between his external world of “taking great classes, enjoying competitive sports, making friends and creating relationships” and the internal world of battling mental health.
“I didn’t tell anyone about the challenges I was facing. Partially because I felt it was a weakness of mine, and partially because I really didn’t know what I was dealing with. I went about my days appearing as a normal student tackling the day-to-day checklists of all aspiring student-athletes. Getting my homework done, participating in class, getting extra reps in, seeking extra help, and trying my best to become my best. Unfortunately, however, my mental health challenges got to a point where I just tried to survive the week, and I would go home on every weekend, dreading the drive back on Sunday night.”
In time he learned that by speaking up, he could have gotten the help and support that he needed to life “the fog that was clouding my vision.” To make this year matter, he implores students to first take care of themselves. “Get sleep, eat well, hydrate, create healthy habits, and when things get challenging, or we start battling internally, speak up. Talk to so someone. You deserve to have an incredible experience here at New Hampton School and we are eager to help you do so. Remember, you can’t fully take care of others, unless you take care of yourself first.”
As Mr. Henry continued, he focused on two additional vital points for our community. In summation, he shared, “If we want this year to matter, we must take care of ourselves, take care of each other, and take care of this community. I’d like to close with a small challenge for all of us. We are about to enjoy our first community dinner of the year. By the end, let’s make sure we know everyone at our table’s name and the next time we see each other around campus, be sure to say hello.”
Congratulations to all of our students and faculty on beginning a new academic year. With meaningfulness and purposeful action on our side, there is nothing we can’t accomplish.