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Closing Upper School assembly celebrates community spirit 2019

Video contributed by Brady Shoemaker, Computer Science and Digital Applications Faculty

Reflection contributed by Christos Galanopoulos, Chair of History Department: The last Upper School assembly this year on May 3, 2019 struck me as an important moment in our school history. Over the years, we've worked intentionally to draw on the ideals of Low-Heywood, Thomas, and King's Day School, coming together and celebrating our school as a community that our students strongly believe in and want to do their best, be it in academics, sports, and all of our rich activities.  The feeling had always been there and was expressed more and more as time went by. At the last US assembly, it did explode (yes, I am thinking of Langston Hughes's poem).

I do not remember seeing such an emotional outpouring of love of our community as I experienced during assembly that day. Luke Buttenwieser, President of the Upper School student body, led the way with a passionate departing speech to his fellow peers who erupted in acclaim and emotion. Then Mr. Lear-Nickum followed up by singing Leonard Cohen's song Halleluiah, as a tribute to departing iconic teachers Mrs. Cathy Mishkin and Mrs. Connie Nichols, who have been teaching in our school for a combined total of 81 years. Both Luke and Mr. Lear-Nickum expressed to the students to appreciate their teachers for all of their deep care for their education, and the appreciation was felt loud and clear.

As Luke said in his speech: "So, if I can leave you all with something... Being a teenager is a strange time in one's life. Being in high school is a strange time in one's life. But you will learn a lot in this school. Remember to form relationships with your teachers. They are here to help you learn and grow as a person. They want to see you succeed and they have loads of knowledge and experience; they are your greatest resource. Thank you, teachers." As Mr. Lear-Nickum sang, the assembly room was darkened and the students lit up their iPhone lights, creating an inspiring atmosphere that seemed like a vigil. Luke was teary-eyed and deeply emotional as he expressed his gratitude to his peers.

For a community to thrive, it is crucial that its members feel that they are part of something larger than themselves, something that empowers and inspires them to appreciate and have deep respect for their classes, their teachers, their administrators, their coaches and their teams. This something pushes the students towards excellence in all of their school endeavors.

I heard students say that "only our school could have such an assembly." A teacher said that her grade 9 advisee could not stop talking about the assembly. Students and teachers alike spoke about how electrifying the whole event was. Indeed, the whole atmosphere was lit with school pride and positive energy. Such eruptive moments shine a light on a historical development; this may well be a moment indicating that we have passed through a developmental transition and we now have arrived as a school at the end of that transition and the beginning of another where we are as strong as ever in our collective faith and pride in our institution.