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Hope and unity emerged as the central themes of Monday’s Convocation, marking the official start of classes for the 2022–2023 school year. 

Co-head monitors Victor Chen ’23 and Robin Storey ’23 both encouraged their peers to make meaningful friendships and be themselves. Following the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, such sincere connections are more precious than ever, both said.

Chen described feeling alone during his Class IV year, and said he started to build a sense of belonging after he came out of his shell and sparked a silly debate (orange juice vs. apple juice) in his U.S. History class that “put the Constitutional Convention to shame.” He encouraged students to embrace the things that make them unique and to pursue their passions.

“One thing I’ve learned in my time here is that whatever I put into this community, Milton will give back,” he said. “If you give this community your most genuine self, you’ll find the love and support that Milton provides.”

Milton is an ever-changing place, which allows students to grow, said Storey, who encouraged students to take advantage of the time and space they get to share.  

“Stick with what brings you hope, what pushes you to keep pushing, and will hold you when you fall,” she said. “The stress of life is inevitable, but the people you’re around make it worthwhile. I want us to find comfort in letting our guard down. We all have things to learn and mistakes to make. Let’s be the people we need, for ourselves and for others.”

This was the first Convocation for new Upper School Principal Monica Benton Palmer, who thanked the audience for welcoming her and her family to Milton. She urged students to celebrate the diversity of the school and focus on building great relationships.

“If this is the first time you have been in a community with peers and adults from different parts of the world, of different faiths and ethnicities, bringing vastly different perspectives and cultural experiences, do not be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone,” she said. “Our differences are essential to our growth and development.”

Both Palmer and Head of School Todd Bland spoke of Milton’s responsibility to graduate change-makers. 

“There are a lot of scary challenges that face our world, and we should all make sure that we understand them, and do our part to leave the world a little better,” said Bland. “I hope that all of us take that responsibility seriously. At times, when you see the challenges that the world faces, hope can feel like it’s out of reach, but I know that at Milton, we won’t allow that to happen. We will hold onto, and remind each other, of the hope in one another and in being in a community that works intentionally to make the world a better place.”