On Sept. 3 the Convocation ceremony officially launched the new school year as KO prepares to celebrate both its 110th anniversary as well as 50 years as a co-educational school. The Dux Prize for highest GPA from each form was awarded to seventh-graders Ysabel Albert, Sasha Dausey, Liliana Goldman, and Azul Montiel, eighth-grader James Livingstone, freshman Maggie Dwyer, sophomore Emma Levinbook, junior Emma Henry, and senior Esha Kataria.
Class flags were also given to students from the Upper Prep and the senior class with the most community service hours. This year’s recipients were Upper Prep students Wade Crowther and Abbie Wildstein and seniors Amelia Levine and Emily Lemkuil. In another Convocation tradition, the class shield was presented to the senior class President Spencer Schaller and senior class Vice President Wes Pierce.
Senior Head Prefect Juanita Asapokhai opened the assembly. Her speech, which compared high school to learning how to drive, provided insights for both the freshman class and the school as a whole. “I wanted to emphasize the importance of being in the driver’s seat,” she said. “That is being in control of your experience in high school. I think it’s really easy for us at this age to be led by our parents and our advisors and just check off boxes, but if you choose not to do that and be more present, you’ll yield a lot more benefits from high school than you would otherwise.”
Juanita said that she wants the freshman class to be as involved as possible. “I encourage everyone to embrace our community,” she said. “Connect with others, don’t let yourself live in isolation.”
Senior Speaker Jacqui Oulette shared similar sentiments, advising students to experience new things while also pursuing their own interests. “Take time to enjoy yourself and cultivate parts of your life that actually make you happy,” she said. Reflecting on her own freshman year, Jacqui said that she hopes the freshmen also keep their health in mind during the chaos of high school. “Prioritize your health over your work, don’t burn yourself out because it’s really easy to do that in your transition,” she said.
Head of School Tom Dillow also gave a speech stressing the importance of one of KO’s core values: intellectual curiosity. Mr. Dillow showed the school a video of a baby’s heightened interest in unfamiliar objects as opposed to toys, and used it to encourage students to have the same attitude towards new things. “I think one of the greatest dangers or threats to our future is if we become apathetic, if we no longer are curious about the world around us,” he said. “But there is a concern out there, I think, about the extent to which the average American understands the rest of the world, as well to understand the world around us, so I think it’s really important,” he said.
Mr. Dillow explained that he especially wants to encourage intellectual curiosity because it is often overlooked compared to our other core values. “Yet I think it’s at the heart of why we exist as a school and what we hope for our students,” he said. As with every year, Mr. Dillow also wanted to remind students to be considerate of each other and promote a sense of belonging. “Be kind and be good to each other,” he said, welcoming students back.