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.”
If it was mechanical or electrical, Kendall Chun tinkered with it: He restored vintage radios, brought failing home appliances back from the brink, built his own electric guitar. If something he made or fixed could bring happiness to others, even better.
Chun, the electrical engineer-turned-Milton computer programming teacher, always had multiple projects going at once. His joy of creating something by hand was infectious, leading him and a handful of students to the off-campus Milton Makerspace, a warehouse where they could work on builds that extended beyond classroom projects. Notable creations include last year’s augmented-reality sandbox, and an arcade cabinet with a functioning program that would allow users to play thousands of classic arcade games.
“It started with Mr. Chun,” said Austin Kinnealey ’23. “He loved arcade games and he was so enthusiastic about this idea, so it caught on. It’s something that everyone can enjoy.”
Alexandra (Alixe) H. Callen ’88 has been selected by the Board of Trustees to be Milton Academy’s 13th head of school, effective July 1, 2023.
Callen, a Milton graduate with extensive teaching and leadership experience in both public and independent schools, currently serves as the head of St. George’s School in Middletown, Rhode Island, a position she has held since 2017.
For the first time, three seniors on Milton’s varsity football team were named Scholar-Athletes by the Eastern Massachusetts Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame. Sam Jaffe ’22, Luke Thorbahn ’22, and Jackson Smith ’22 were recognized for excellence on and off the field.
“The award honors athletes who are not only great football players, but great students, and great kids,” said head coach Kevin MacDonald. “It’s also about the contributions they make to the school and the community at large.”
On April 30, the Board of Trustees honored its outgoing president, Lisa Donohue ’83, with the Milton Medal, recognizing her years of leadership and dedication during a significant period of growth for Milton Academy.
“Lisa’s incredible service to Milton clearly makes her deserving of this important honor,” said Board member Claire Hughes Johnson ’90, who will succeed Donohue as president on July 1. “Lisa served Milton during a critical period, and every time the school needed more from her, she increased her level of time, energy, and dedication to Milton’s success. Although Lisa credits Milton for its positive role during a formative time in her life, what is most impressive is her ability to separate the Milton of the past from what the school and the students most need today. Constantly guided by what’s best for the students, Lisa set an example for all of us.”
The Milton Medal recognizes extraordinary service to the school. Donohue’s integral guidance in the implementation of the school’s strategic plan—including its historic capital campaign Dare: The Campaign For Milton—has positioned Milton well for the future, said Head of School Todd Bland. In addition to her oversight of Milton’s strategic plan, Donohue provided sound advice and leadership during the school’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its transition to and from a remote-learning model.
The magic of musicals returns to King Theatre this month with a production of Chicago, Milton’s first live musical since the fall of 2018.
Director and Performing Arts Department faculty member Eleza Kort said the show—a satire of sensationalized crime in 1920s Chicago—was chosen for its spectacle and potential for escapism.
“We wanted to do something big, something fun, something with amazing music and cool and interesting dancing, and something with an intriguing plot,” she said. “I wanted a show with a little darkness, but that’s not too dark. We wanted to invite people back to the theater with something that will razzle-dazzle them.”
This year’s Graduation speaker is Heather C. McGhee ’97. She is an author and public policy advocate who designs and promotes solutions to inequality in America. For nearly two decades, she helped build the policy organization Demos, serving four years as its president.
McGhee’s New York Times bestselling book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, was long-listed for the National Book Award and the Carnegie Medal for Excellence.
The speech and debate teams celebrated recent accolades at the Massachusetts Speech and Debate League’s (MSDL) State Championship, including a senior being named a speech state champion and a recognition for the overall speech team.
Talia Sherman ’22 captured the state championship in Dramatic Performance while the team received a third-place sweepstakes award, which measures the team’s overall success in comparison with other schools. Jack Burton ’22 was recognized for his creation and leadership of the MSDL Student Board, and was invited to give a speech, in which he acknowledged the league’s coaches for their work throughout the past two years of online competition.
In debate, four students competed in the category of Novice Public Forum and were highly successful, advancing into the elimination rounds as quarter- and semi-finalists.
“What does it mean to be human?” philosopher Cornel West asked Milton students. “How do we hold onto integrity in the face of oppression? How do we hold onto honesty in the face of deception? How do we hold onto decency in the face of insult and assault, and how do we hold on to the enabling virtue of them all—courage—in the face of catastrophic bombardment?”
West, a renowned scholar, writer, and activist, joined students taking Philosophy and Literature virtually last week. He discussed how literature can help people understand seemingly insurmountable challenges, or what Samuel Beckett called “the mess” of modern human existence.
Young people are facing catastrophic political, social, and environmental issues, West said. They may find some clarity in the work of artists and thinkers who “wrestle with catastrophe.” A self-described “Chekhovian Christian,” West said he finds healing in work that confronts disaster head-on.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have long endured discrimination influenced by nearly two centuries of history and exclusionary laws, said University of Maryland professor Janelle Wong, who explained that law and policy play critical roles in reversing discrimination.
“The story of Asian Americans has been shaped by these two dominant stereotypes: the ‘model minority’ myth and the ‘forever foreigner’ stereotype,” said Wong, who was this year’s Hong Kong Distinguished Lecturer. “Both of those stereotypes are the products of both history and laws. And the experiences of Asian Americans are deeply connected with other minority groups in the United States. When disparities are shaped by policy, their solutions must also come from policy.”
Fears by white leaders in the mid-19th century that Chinese immigrants would bring anti-democratic and anti-Christian values to the country ultimately resulted in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned immigration of Chinese laborers and later expanded to ban people from all over Asia. Since that time, anti-Asian sentiment and violence has been “embedded” in America, Wong said, noting that it mirrored the timeline but existed on a smaller scale than anti-Black racism and violence.