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convocation-2016Listening well and embracing our differences are important tasks in the life of a School as diverse as Milton, Head of School Todd Bland told students and faculty at Convocation. At a time when national politics are particularly divisive, Mr. Bland urged all to “represent the very best ideals of civility in discourse,” explaining: “Demonstrating tremendous and committed respect to those whose truths are different than yours is critical work.”

Convocation marks the official start of the academic year, with a formal, traditional ceremony in which Mr. Bland, Upper School Principal David Ball and Milton’s co-head monitors, Semi Oloko (I) and Tyler Piazza (I) set the tone for the year ahead. Saying “everyone has their ‘thing,’” Tyler urged his peers to recognize that everyone has a goal or dream they’re pursuing, which is a perfect place to start a conversation. “It’s a lot easier to connect with someone when you realize that everyone is passionate about something.”

Acknowledging that everyone brings a “unique and integral perspective” to Milton, Semi encouraged her fellow students to be tolerant and respectful of one another. “Milton functions because of the diversity of its moving parts. Let this be an amazing year.”

Mr. Ball introduced new Upper School faculty members and presented Semi and Tyler with the James S. Willis Jr. Memorial Award. In his remarks, Mr. Ball recounted with hilarity his personal experience with forced “icebreakers,” reminding students and faculty that every person is complex—that we should be careful not to reduce anyone to a single story, or a single part of their journey. But those icebreakers, while awkward for some people, are a great opportunity for introspection and self-acceptance. “Beneath those games and activities, there is a call to generosity, compassion and respect.”

Click on the videos below to watch Convocation speakers address students, faculty and staff in the Fitzgibbons Convocation Center.

Todd Bland, Head of School 

David Ball, Upper School Principal 

Tyler Piazza (I)

Semi Oloko (I)