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Convocation, the official opening of Pingry's school year, is an event of reverence and tradition as Middle and Upper School students reaffirm their commitment to the Honor Code. Like other beginnings this fall, Convocation looked much different than its previous 33 versions. To accommodate for social distancing, the opening procession included only the Head of School, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Senior Faculty Member, and Magistri—all proudly wearing their academic gowns, a tradition passed down from universities of the Middle Ages—and only five individuals sat on stage during the ceremony. Honor Code pledges, traditionally submitted by hand and with a handshake, were placed on a table, center stage. And in the audience were seniors and their advisors, with everyone else watching remotely via a livestream.
Head of School Matt Levinson took a moment to recognize that "we're here because of the extraordinary work of our faculty and staff who poured their heart and soul into making sure we could be back in person. That is no small achievement." He also paid tribute to the impact and legacy of former Headmaster John Hanly, who passed away in August; Mr. Hanly initiated Convocation in his first year, 1987, and created the Honor Board as part of his dedication to ethics.
Here are highlights from this year's remarks:
"Good morning: 'good' because we are all here; 'good' because the academic year has begun; 'good' because teams are practicing; 'good' because friendships are being renewed. This has been a year of tests, and it will continue to be a year of testing—testing our determination, our resolve, and our will."
—Senior Faculty Member Miller Bugliari '52, P '86, '90, '97, GP '20, '24, beginning his 62nd year on the faculty
"The underrepresented student voice is at the forefront of all of our minds. Everyone has the ability to speak up . . . and [there is] the notion of responsibility. Don't advocate for Snow Days when you could be advocating for justice . . . Be aware of your power, and use it responsibly and productively. Use your voice to speak for the people who can't speak for themselves."
—Student Body President Nolan Baynes II '21
"The last five minutes [of the nightly news] are the 'kicker' that follows 25 minutes of bad news. This year has felt like those first 25 minutes . . . but I'd like to think we're in the last five minutes, to grow as a community, to redefine and bolster our values. The Honor Code is at the center of that opportunity—it evolves with us, with new interpretations and meanings. As the world changes, the Honor Code . . . stands the test of time."
—Honor Board Chair Meghan Durkin '21
"This school year looks different, but the changes are quite superficial. The essence of Pingry is unchanged. We are all here, to learn and to create and to support each other. The Honor Code is still our compass. Our artists and athletes are still dedicated to improving their incredible skills. Do not be satisfied with your own adoption of this positive perspective. Help each other to share this approach. Winston Churchill said, 'A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.'"
—Board of Trustees Chair Jeff Edwards '78, P '12, '14, '18
"Years ago, basketball coach Fran Dunphy was driving at night in the pouring rain and got a flat tire . . . he panics and calls home, and tells his father he needs help. When he starts to change the tire, the lug nuts slip out of his hands and go down the sewer. His father pulls up, rolls down the window, and says, 'You have three other wheels.' A pessimist would feel helpless. An optimist would pivot and take a lug nut from the other wheels. There will be moments this year when you face a situation that has three wheels. It is my hope that you will figure out how to leverage and use those three wheels to solve problems."
—Head of School Matt Levinson
On the subject of the Honor Code's connection to returning to campus, Mr. Levinson said, "We have to keep 'the common good' at the forefront of our thinking, to be here."
He also recognized the Magistri, faculty members who have taught at Pingry for at least 25 years. Collectively, this school year's Magistri have served Pingry for 650 years!
Watch the Convocation ceremony.
Contact: Greg Waxberg '96, Communications Writer, Editor of The Pingry Review