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14-09_convocationA formal, traditional expression of School life, Convocation marks the start of the academic year: new opportunities, new faculty, and new classmates. Messages from Head of School Todd Bland, Upper School Principal David Ball, and Milton’s co-head monitors, Caroline Wall (I) and Louis Demetroulakos (I), were highlights of the ceremony. Mr. Bland urged students and faculty to approach this year with a positive, “glass half full” attitude. He drew on the example set by Lou Gehrig, whose grace and positivity in the face of his career-ending diagnosis can be an inspiration to all of us. Mr. Ball’s message, which began with a personal (and hilarious) childhood tale of horseback riding in the “grand, majestic American west,” encouraged us to practice “urgent optimism” and “infectious action”—to “stand up, stand for, and give to.” He spoke of the Wright Brothers, who as young boys believed they could transform the human experience through flight, which they did without funding or formal education. “Pedigree doesn’t determine the success of innovation,” Mr. Ball said. “Passion does.”

Caroline—through the unlikely metaphor of unusual medical emergencies—offered solid advice to her fellow students as they begin the school year: venture outside of your circle and comfort zone; try new things; don’t overcommit yourself; and be persistent. “You have 694 potential new friends in this room,” she reminded everyone. Louis, drawing inspiration from his hero, the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, shared the values of living passionately, savoring the learning process, staying positive, and standing up for that which you believe. “Let’s make this an epic year,” he closed.

Mr. Bland awarded the George C. Lee Family Teaching Chair, which supports excellence in teaching and helps new faculty find a sense of belonging at the School. The 2014 Lee Chair recipient is math faculty member and Class I dean Susan Karp. Mr. Ball awarded the James S. Willis Jr. Memorial Award to co-head monitors Caroline Wall and Louis Demetroulakos.

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

Head of School Todd Bland

Upper School Principal David Ball

Caroline Wall (I)

Louis Demetroulakos (I)