The KO community gathered together in Roberts Theater on Tuesday, Sept. 5, to officially kick off the new school year with the annual Convocation ceremony. Head of School Tom Dillow started off by welcoming everyone back after the summer break and the long Labor Day weekend.
Mr. Dillow then invited eighth-grader Eden Gonzalez up to the podium. Eden reflected on being a new student to KO last year and how nervous she was to start at a new school, and to leave her friends behind. Opening herself up and immersing herself in the community gave her a sense of belonging, and she encouraged all the new students to try to do the same. “When I gave it a chance and looked at the glass half full, I truly saw how wonderful this place is,” she said. “So I hope throughout this year, you can find your place as I did and leave this room feeling more at home than you did when you walked in.”
Next, senior Speaker and Head Prefect Nicholas Tippner got up to the podium and welcomed the community back. He provided some words of wisdom to each class, including the faculty and staff. Nick reminded his own class, the seniors, to make the most of every opportunity that comes their way and to cherish their final year at KO. “Seize every moment. Our high school time is fleeting, and senior year will fly by,” he said. “Make the most of each day, and engage with all the experiences that come your way. Take a step back and evaluate your aspirations, and set meaningful goals for your future.”
After Eden and Nick, Mr. Dillow took the podium once again and highlighted one of KO’s core values, perseverance. He used one of his own experiences as an example. Through the pandemic, he picked up a new hobby of completing jigsaw puzzles. One in particular based on the “Dance at Le moulin de la Galette” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir gave him particular trouble. Today he still keeps at it, trying to pick away at completing it every so often and jokingly said he hopes to be done by graduation. Through this, Mr. Dillow reminded everyone to face the obstacles that’ll come their way for the sense of accomplishment that’ll come at the end.
He then provided three suggestions to help persevere: to not give up, to accept failure and to make mistakes often, and especially to have a growth mindset. He reiterated staying positive and not giving up even when times get difficult. “Only the joy and satisfaction of getting there, of accomplishing the goal you set out for yourself will drive you forward,” Mr. Dillow said. “You will need to keep coming back to that well often during your journey when you fall down, when you make a mistake, when you have a setback. Think of the summit and keep going.”
Mr. Dillow continued to make connections to J.K. Rowling, Thomas Edison, and Lionel Messi as prime examples of perseverance, how their resilience and refusal to give up are credit to their successes. Finally, he mentioned Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, and how her research discovered that successful people follow a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset.
Following Mr. Dillow’s speech, Head of the Middle School Ann Sciglimpaglia and Head of the Upper School Lisa Loeb came up to present the class flags and senior class shields. The Upper Prep class flag was presented to sixth-graders Oliver Nicholson and Nina Matamanna, and to Form 6, presented to seniors Michael Bzowyckyj and Loretta Szych. The senior class shields were then presented to senior President Sinani Sebadduka and Vice President Cici Freeman. Seniors will carve their initials into the shields in May, and the flags will fly on graduation day.
To conclude the Convocation ceremony, a new tradition was started. The school song, “Hail Kingswood Oxford” which previously was only sung at graduation, was sung by the community together in unison, marking the beginning of the year spent together.