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05-09_convocation_2Milton launches school with style: contrasting rituals on two separate days get the year underway. Class Day officially celebrates the senior class; and the senior class takes its rightful leadership role. The antithesis of boring, Class Day is colorful, humorous, imaginative and warm. At the center, among the costumed revelers, are the Class I Councilors, with their messages to the School about how to make the most of this unique school, give the most to the community, and gain the most personal growth.

Convocation is a more formal, traditional expression of School life. It signals the beginning of the academic year: new opportunities, new faculty, and new classmates.  Once again, messages from students are pivotal points in the ceremony. The two head monitors respond to having been awarded the James S. Willis, Jr. Memorial Award by sharing their thoughts at this poignant moment in their Milton experience.

Sarah Diamond argued for finding the courage and the motivation to move beyond immediate gratification. “It is time for all of us to stop saying that problems are too big to be solved.  We have the rest of our lives to spend as self-promoting cynics. Right now is a chance to learn and think and have big ideas and believe in ideals. I like to think that here, education means knowing how to deal with criticism, how to look at the past for guidance, and also knowing how to realize its flaws.”

Sam Rosen, noting the shift from being terrified at the start of his Milton experience to “[feeling] more at home here than almost any other place [he’s] ever been,” urged underclassmen to squeeze every possible experience out of the great opportunities of their Milton days. “Err on the side of doing and caring too much, not too little,” Sam says. “Milton provides a freedom found in few other places: a freedom to pursue what you care about most in the world, while still being able to have a wealth of new experiences.”

Finally, Head of School Rick Hardy offered a practical template for thriving at Milton. “Be present,” he urged. “Be ready. … Avoid focusing prematurely on outcomes… Be part of the conversation,” he explained, among other simple rules of thumb that make all the difference in a student’s life here.

Ceremony complete, 680 boarding and day students, girls and boys from 27 states and 21 countries teem out the doors, into the many classrooms, to settle themselves around the Harkness tables, where this year’s conversations begin.