Convocation welcomes students virtually


On Friday, Sept. 18, Kingswood Oxford’s Convocation Ceremony launched the official start of the school year. Typically, Convocation would be held in Roberts Theater on the first day of school. However, due to COVID-19, this year’s Convocation Ceremony was a video shown to the students during advisee group. 

The assembly opened with a speech from senior Head Prefect Sloan Duvall. During her speech, she told the story of a farmer who experienced various seemingly unfortunate events. Despite his circumstances, the farmer was able to stay open-minded while all the neighbors immediately jumped to the worst-case scenario. 

In her speech, Sloan stressed the importance of the message in the story. “I chose to tell this story because I think it shows just how easy it is to develop a negative mindset when something seemingly bad happens,” Sloan said. 

Despite the abnormal year ahead, Sloan challenged the student body to keep an open mindset when faced with difficulties. “When each of these changes comes your way, I challenge each and every one of you to think like the farmer,” she said. “Instead of thinking something is bad because it’s different, try to step back and see the bigger picture.” 

Next, senior Speaker Eden Nenshati addressed the student body and provided them with life lessons he obtained through his seven years at KO. Reflecting on his own experience, he directly addressed the freshman class. “Now to the freshmen,” he said, “my advice to you is to use those around you to help you instead of stressing yourself out.” 

Speaking to his own class, Eden urged the seniors to finish strong. “We’ve all made it this far so let’s finish off with a bang,” he said.

After the student speeches, Head of School Tom Dillow announced the Dux Prize winners. The Dux Prize is awarded every year at Convocation to one student in each form with the highest GPA from the previous school year. This year’s recipients were seventh-grader Norah Pond, eighth-grader Ysabel Albert, freshman James Livingstone, sophomore Maggie Dwyer, junior Emma Levinbook, and senior Olivia Pear. 

The assembly concluded with a speech from Mr. Dillow where he addressed two crucial issues that lie before us. The first was questioning how we can engage in constructive discussions given the upcoming election, while the second was how can we become a more inclusive community. 

Mr. Dillow discussed how studies have proven that the human brain has a natural tendency to separate the world into groups. He emphasized the significance of this information by urging the student body to acknowledge this data, so they can confidently begin to overcome these biases. “If we can stop being defensive, and acknowledge that we are all implicitly complicit in racism, we can maybe start to make some progress towards dismantling it,” Mr. Dillow said.   

Even though the community could not all be gathered together for this year’s Convocation Ceremony, the speeches still carried powerful messages that will inspire serious thinking this year.