Sharing messages celebrating strength in supportive communities, this year’s Convocation speakers challenged Milton students to “Dare to be true” to one another and the world at large.
Convocation marks the beginning of the academic year for the Upper School. Students heard remarks from Head of School Dr. Alixe Callen ’88, Director of Restorative Justice Suzanne DeBuhr, co-Head Monitors Katherine Risden ’24 and Chris Amodeo ’24, and Principal Dr. Monica Benton Palmer.
Dr. Callen recalled starting at Milton as a sophomore: Coming from a small school in her New York hometown where she had been a standout student, she struggled initially. The other girls in Goodwin House already had strong bonds with one another and classes were much more challenging. Once she opened up and shared her vulnerability, the support she received from fellow students and her teachers helped immeasurably, she said.
“What saved me in those beginning months were the people, faculty, staff, and friends who watched out for me,” Dr. Callen said. “When I opened myself up to help and support from the community, when I admitted things were hard, when I allowed myself to cry, things got better. And that’s the power of community. My belief in the power of community started here at Milton, and it’s been a theme in my life and my work ever since.”
Katherine, a boarding student from Kingston, Jamaica, shared her country’s motto: “Out of many, one people.” The sentiment applies to Milton, which gathers diverse students from all over the world, who each represent an important part of the community where all members depend and rely on each other.
Chris shared a story about working on his grandfather’s farm. A boarding student from upstate New York, Chris said the collective effort to nurture a garden mirrors the active engagement that a school community needs to thrive: “You set the tone,” he told his classmates. “Let’s connect with all of the elements of our community.”
Dr. Palmer asked students to think of challenges as opportunities, reminding them that the community will support them. “There is always a way forward,” she said. “When you have a goal, you carve out a path.”
The head monitors asked fellow students to “say hey,” as much as possible, greeting one another and helping to create a welcoming and kind environment on campus—even with people they haven’t met, and even through the occasional awkwardness of getting to know one another. “I’m willing to take that risk, and I hope you will too,” Chris said.