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Convocation Opens 2023-24 School Year
Greg Waxberg

Convocation, the official opening of Pingry’s school year since 1987, is an event of reverence and tradition as Middle and Upper School students reaffirm their commitment to the Honor Code by submitting signed Honor Code pledges to the Student Body President and Honor Board Chair.* This year’s event was held on Parsons Field on September 8, with the opening procession consisting of Head of School Tim Lear, Chair of the Board of Trustees Ian Shrank ’71, Student Body President Jada Watson ’24, Honor Board Chair Divya Subramanian ’24, and the faculty—all proudly wearing their academic gowns, a tradition passed down from universities of the Middle Ages.

The ceremony included the presentation of the Letter-In-Life Award, the School’s highest honor, bestowed on a graduate who has earned distinction professionally and, by doing so, brought honor to Pingry; presenting this award in front of the student body also recognizes the potential that Pingry sees in every current student. The 2023 recipient is award-winning writer and author Lyric Wallwork Winik ’84, who has collaborated with notable figures on bestselling books—she is the youngest living graduate to receive the award and the first graduate to have received the Magistri Laudandi Award (honoring a senior who helps everyone succeed) and later received the Letter-In-Life Award.

Here are excerpts from this year’s remarks:

Senior faculty member Miller Bugliari ’52, beginning his 65th year at Pingry, delivered the Invocation. He pointed out that students have a “clean slate” to begin the year, with opportunities in athletics and other areas, and lots of courses to choose from. They should have a positive attitude, make the most of their opportunities, and “commit to excellence and honor.”

“The overarching theme for my plans for the year is ‘positive energy’ . . . on our Girls’ Lacrosse Team at Pingry, we strive for a level of momentum during our season, and a crucial part of that momentum is Benergy, or ‘bench energy,’ when our bench is all wound up, shouting, and celebrating as our teammates on the field are playing . . . Let’s explore ‘positive momentum’ as an umbrella term that can be fueled by productivity, spirit, and connection. Productivity is an indirect way to have a positive impact on someone because it’s often observed and mirrored. Positive momentum also requires a high level of school spirit—you can show school spirit by encouraging a friend or even saying hello [to people] . . . Meet someone new, share your kindness, and show them what Pingry is all about by leading by example.”
Student Body President Jada Watson ’24

“Last year, many of us were asked the question, ‘What is your Big Blue moment? What is the event that culminates your experiences at Pingry?’ I realized that my time at Pingry consists of many ‘small Big Blue moments’ . . . just like a painting is composed of individual brush strokes, each of these moments contributes to the masterpiece of the total school experience. This new year presents us with a blank canvas . . . at the heart of our journey stands the Honor Code. Let’s extend a helping hand and uplift through our compassion. Let’s make every day a series of ‘small Blue moments’ that, together, weave a tapestry of shared experiences, achievements, and growth.”
Honor Board Chair Divya Subramanian ’24

“Being Chair of the Board is the highest honor of my life. Some would say that I’m now a ‘leader,’ but I’m the same guy who couldn’t get a room of 30 adults to be quiet for five minutes [at a Pingry party]. But why should I be worried about this? Why should you worry about being a leader? The most important aspect of leadership is that there’s precious little any of us can accomplish alone. All of us need others to get things done, and there are many types of leadership. Former baseball player Cal Ripken, Jr. [who set the record for consecutive games played] wrote a book and summed up his recommendation for success in the title, Just Show Up. There’s a 1979 movie with Peter Sellers, Being There. Every one of us can show up when asked to do so. Show up at other times to volunteer. And do your level-headed best to get the job done. That probably seems way too simplistic, but it’s not. Reliability and working hard are essential to leadership. Show people what you can do and help get things done.”
Board of Trustees Chair Ian Shrank ’71

“One of my favorite plays, Doubt, opens with a question: ‘What do you do when you’re not sure?’ Before arriving at Pingry in the seventh grade, I had a standard approach to uncertainty: when I was comfortable and fairly certain that I could predict the outcome, I was all in. But the minute obstacles appeared, especially unforeseen ones, I grew skeptical and reserved . . . Once I arrived at Pingry, the Honor Code sounded nice as an abstract concept, but I didn’t see where I fit into that . . . I didn’t see myself as a leader capable of living up to the Honor Code . . . This community only works if everyone participates and holds each other to high standards. Choose to follow [Letter-In-Life Award recipient] Lyric’s example of placing a premium on helping each other succeed.”
Head of School Tim Lear

* The Honor Code pledge ceremony was initiated in 2007 by then–Student Body President Jessica Westerman ’08. Separately from Convocation, the Board of Trustees and all employees also sign the Honor Code every year.

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Mr. Lear also recognized the Magistri, faculty members who have worked at Pingry for at least 25 years. Collectively, the 2023-24 school year’s 18 Magistri have served Pingry for 586 years.

Miller Bugliari ’52, Special Assistant to the Head of School (1959)
William Bourne, Physics Teacher (1984)
Charles Coe, Physics Teacher (1984)
Timothy Grant, Chemistry Teacher (1984)
Michael Webster, Middle School History Teacher (1987)
Thomas Keating, Upper School English Teacher (1988)
Donna Thau, Middle School Math Teacher (1989)
Patricia Wheeler, Upper School Drama and Dance Teacher (1990)
Dr. Andrew Moore, Music Department Chair (1993)
Miles Boyd, Visual Arts Department Chair (1994)
Deirdre O’Mara, Biology Teacher (1995)
Ramsay Vehslage, Jr., Middle School Science Teacher (1995)
Stephanie Romankow, Performing Arts Department Chair (1996)
Ted Corvino ’94, Upper School History Teacher (1998)
Sean McAnally, Upper School Music Teacher (1998)
Leslie Miller, Lower School P.E. Teacher (1998)
Dr. James Murray, Upper School History Teacher (1998)
Nigel Paton, Upper School English and Art History Teacher (1998)

Pictured: Special Assistant to the Head of School Miller Bugliari ’52, Board of Trustees Chair Ian Shrank ’71, Head of School Tim Lear, Honor Board Chair Divya Subramanian ’24, and Student Body President Jada Watson ’24


Contact: Greg Waxberg ’96, Communications Writer, Editor of The Pingry Review