Convocation marks the official start of the academic year at New Hampton School. Together, we enjoyed two beautiful days, which included outdoor orientation trips to surrounding venues in the Lakes Region. On Sunday afternoon, students, faculty and administrators convened for the year’s first official ceremony.
Cum Laude Society Induction
Head of School Joe Williams opened the 199th Convocation, followed by Cum Laude society inductions of five new students. Setting the tone for academic excellence, the Cum Laude society signifies the opportunity and drive to excel in our classrooms. Five students were recognized including Davis Bone ’20, Riccardo D’Agata ’20, Tristan McDonald ’20, Samantha Thomas ’20, and Xinying “Sally” Wang ’20
Reflecting on our school theme
Mr. Williams shared some of his thoughts on this year’s school theme, All In. He explained to students the importance in a theme, sharing a central ideal and providing common vocabulary which reminds us of our commitment to each other. “Actions speak louder than words,” he reminded us as he encouraged everyone to consider their actions and these questions:
What do my actions say about me as a person?
Do they accurately reflect my priorities and who I want to be?
How do they reflect on New Hampton and my family?
Would my grandparent approve – the ultimate test! Am I open to receiving feedback on my actions to grow as a person?
Mr. Williams chose to focus on two characteristics that will recur for us throughout the year – trust and accountability. He then shifted the ceremony to our student body co-presidents. Zola had the honor of opening remarks. She reminded her classmates of how quickly the year would go by and that it was up to everyone to take advantage of the opportunities before us. Zola then introduced our featured convocation speaker and English faculty member, Bo Cramer.
Featured Convocation speaker
Mr. Cramer, who was honored with the O’Connor Excellence in Teaching Award last spring, chose to share a personal story with the students, focused on commitment and compromise. He spoke about the challenging years after college as he tried to piece together life, work, and relationships by following the expectations of others he assumed upon himself. Ultimately realizing life wasn’t going the way that it should, he came to understand the need to commit to his own goals. He then moved from his own life story to the shared goals and commitments for our community. “I would like to transition and discuss something we should all commit to. Today. Without hesitation and without resistance, I charge you all to commit to compromise.”
Learning from our summer read
Referencing our summer read “The Hate You Give,” Mr. Cramer acknowledged the compromises the main character Starr Carter makes as she molds her life to fit different social groups and expectations as a young black woman going to a primarily white school, while still living with her friends and family in a primarily black community.
“Compromise has become a word of weakness, loss, and failure. Our societal focus on outcomes and winning has made us blind to the concept of communal good, of mutual growth. I think it is time we confront the paradox of how can we walk away without winning, and yet still not lose? How can we choose empathy and understanding over our fragile egos?
“Now is the time to be All In and commit. Commit to building a community that works toward a better world, and not a divided one. Do what you can this year. Start with New Hampton, make it the most inclusive community it can be, and then do more. It is time that we all rely on each other.”
Embracing opportunity and transformation
Following Mr. Cramer’s moving words, student body co-president Tulio also shared a personal story. He spoke of the transformational opportunity afforded him at New Hampton School. Tulio went on to encourage the community to embrace challenges, to learn from them, and to come together in support of one another throughout the year.
A diverse collection of activities set the stage for the school year. The weekend was thoughtfully planned with orientation trips, mock classes, advisory gatherings, Convocation, an all-school photo, and the first community dinner. With excellent student leadership, thoughtful preparation, and an enthusiastic group of students, we look forward to the year ahead.