Convocation 2022 – Speeches

Interim Head of School, Ron Dalgliesh P ’21

I am so thrilled to be with all of you this morning as we begin the 239th school year since the founding of Moses Brown School. I am especially excited to see our youngest students right in front of me – who are beginning this year in their brand new Lower School.

Seniors – this is my 15th year at MB – which means I’ve known some of you since you were three-year old’s starting at MB as nursery students – and, I’ve been here to watch all of you join the class of 2023 in the years since. It’s been a privilege to be a part of your journey. I look forward to smiling, listening, laughing, and learning together with you this year. And, I need your help. As leaders of this student body, I will rely on your partnership to ensure we have a fantastic school year.

Seniors – we will begin and end this journey, together. In 279 days, I will stand on a stage right over there in The Grove and hand you your diplomas.

The question is – what will you and each of us do with the next 279 days?

I encourage each of us to dive into the next 279 days with our full selves, to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way – to ask questions, embrace new challenges, appreciate that failure is an essential part of learning and growth. Let’s be resilient, prioritize kindness, and, be curious.

And, let’s find the joy in everyday experiences. Let’s have fun together.

I know every adult in this circle – teachers, staff, and parents – are committed to being alongside you every step of the way – challenging, encouraging, and supporting you. We are MB – and we believe in you. We will do everything in our power to inspire your inner promise, to help you find success, self-awareness, and self-confidence.

Now, as we begin the adventure of the next 279 days together, I want to ask each of you to help us be the best community we can be. Which leads me to a question, what does it mean to “be MB?” This isn’t a rhetorical question. It’s one I will be asking all of us to explore in the weeks and months ahead.

Over the last 2 1/2 years so many forces have been chiseling away at the bedrock of our community of our ability to truly feel known and to know each other. We couldn’t see each other smile – or frown – through those masks. We were told to physically distance and not to gather in big groups. Instead of shaking hands we were sharing emojis on zoom.

Every dimension of what we do and care about at this school is focused on human relationships. Learning at MB relies on the relationship between our remarkable teachers and students, between and among the students themselves, between the school and our families, and the school with generations of alumni.

There is a unique culture and sense of community that has defined this school for generations. Each of us in this circle will define the culture this year. We are in control. It is our responsibility. I encourage us to put the past few years behind us. To take shared accountability for reaffirming who we are and who we want to be… to reaffirm what it means to “be MB”?

I want you to take a moment to look around you… at this amazing campus… at the students and friends you will share so much with…and at the most talented, caring teachers I think you will ever know.

Think about how fortunate we all are to be together – in this place – at this moment – surrounded by all of these amazing people.

This is MB. We are MB.

But as I’ve been reflecting, about what it truly means to “be MB,” I keep coming back to my favorite Quaker ideal. “Let your life speak.”

While we have many words to describe our school and our Quaker values – what really matters is our actions. What we do in both the little moments when no one is watching – and the bigger moments when we take action to make a difference for others.

So when you walk down the hall today and see someone you don’t really know, will you look the other way or share a smile that shows you see and appreciate them? When you are playing on the floor of those new lower school classrooms, will you invite others into your game and share your toys?

In the days ahead, when you see a new student looking for a place to sit at lunch, will you move over and invite them into your group? When you are with a group of friends and someone says something unkind about someone else, will you have the courage to speak up for what you know is right? When you finish your lunch, will your actions – and whether you clean up after yourself. Show that you respect the people in sage dining who work so hard to prepare your meals? Are you ready to seek the wisdom that comes from empathy, from truly putting yourself in someone else’s shoes as you consider your actions?

I hope we can continue to reflect together on what it means to be MB, and make a shared commitment to the everyday actions that build a community of joy, kindness, respect, and belonging.

Let’s not spend one moment this year taking any of this and any of us for granted. Let’s be in this together, let’s celebrate each other, let’s lift each other up when we’re down, let’s be joyful together, let’s learn how we can make a difference – for each other and people in need beyond these gates, let’s challenge ourselves to be the best version of ourselves and MB.

I have worked in schools most of my adult life and it has instilled in me a never ending sense of optimism represented. But we live in a broader world, one that seems increasingly divided and filled with injustice and violence. But I firmly believe we have a choice – we can choose the dark or choose the light. I encourage each of us to wake up every day and choose the light. As Desmond Tutu said, “hope is being able to see there is light, despite all the darkness.”

And, to me, there is never more light and more hope than at the start of a school year. As the national youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman shared, “the new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’ve brave enough to be it.” Let’s choose light. Let’s show that light in our actions. Let’s be MB.

Thank you for giving me a chance to share a few thoughts with you this morning. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for each of us.

 

Emmy M. ’27

Hello I am Emmy M. ’27 and I’m a current 8th grader. This is my 11th year at Moses Brown.

Considering the number of years I have been on campus I thought I would reflect on what I love about the Middle school, Moses Brown and offer some advice. First on behalf of the middle school I would like to welcome all the new students, families, faculty, and staff. For those who are returning I would also like to welcome you back.

What I love about Middle School is that you get to study a range of topics that are engaging and fun. 8th graders get to do a Rube Goldberg project, 7th graders get to plan their own trip to Boston and present at different historical sites. 6th graders get to create headdresses while learning about Ancient Egypt, and 5th graders I’m not used to saying this but welcome to the middle school. This will be the first time that 5th graders get to take part in sports, music during the day and language classes more often. As you enter the Middle school you gain a lot more freedom than what you were used to in Lower school, especially with getting yourself from class to class, so I recommend a watch.

Our athletic program caters to all levels of players and creates a welcoming environment to meet new people. Our drama program allows you to become involved through acting, set design, technical crew, and costume design. Our music program encourages you to explore wind, strings, chorus, and jazz ensembles. This year also marks the return of team trips which has been a Middle School tradition that went away during covid.

What I love about Moses Brown is the very supportive community, for instance, you often find yourself being cheered on by fellow classmates. I also love that teachers are invested in their students and their doors are always open for additional help. To me, community represents togetherness and a place you can always fall back on. Attending a Quaker school means supporting one another and those in our neighboring communities.

If I were to give you any advice for this upcoming year I would have to tell you to be ready to offer your perspective, but also be willing to listen to ideas that you may disagree with.

As we enter this school year I’d like to offer you a challenge, in the words of Herb Brooks, legendary olympic hockey coach, “Be better than you are. Set a goal that seems unattainable, and when you reach that goal, set another one even higher.”
Wether it’s being a little nicer or challenging yourself in an unfamiliar subject I hope that everyone sets a goal for themselves.

Have a wonderful year and thank you.

 

Salter A. ’23

It’s crazy how just four years ago, all that was on young Salter’s mind was not angering his mom too much, winning the popular video game Fortnite and who was coming to the Friday evening Thayer stroll after school. Everyone, I kid you not: Imagine 15-20 thirteen-year-old students packed on the sidewalk of Thayer Street in one loud and obnoxious group. If you were working at one of the stores, you were hoping that you would not have to face our rowdy crowd. Looking back, it’s hard to comprehend how much has changed since the beginning of my journey at Moses Brown at the age of 13. I would never have imagined myself having the confidence to stand here, at this podium, addressing the entire school. Most of the changes I’ve experienced have been admirable, and I’d like to attribute that to my mother (whom I no longer anger… at least, not too much. Love you mom), my friends, peers, and teachers, and this school. The switch to Moses Brown was one of the best decisions of my life, and I genuinely appreciate the experiences and opportunities it has and is still providing me. I look around and see teachers who care; peers that have become friends; and a safe and supportive environment.

Being grateful is my most noteworthy change from being the careless, privileged child to the still a bit careless, still privileged, but maturing young man. My advice to you, students, is to seek this gratitude actively. You may bicker with your loved ones as I did for a long time, but senior year sneaks up on you, and you’ll wish you had spent more time and energy on the relationships that last a lifetime.

Anyways, I, probably like many of you, have genuine anxiety as we again find ourselves facing a new year with considerable changes ahead. From starting high school (the first year grades start to count, freshman, I’m looking at you), to diving headfirst into college applications for many of my senior classmates and me, the changes we anticipate are scary. But I assure you, just weeks or months into the future, we will look back in disbelief that we wasted so much time and energy worrying. Let’s dispel the fear of these dreaded first days of school as we take advantage of the golden opportunities that this school provides, making change something to look forward to. I am grateful and elated for another year in this special place with so many special people and to see where life takes my fellow seniors as many of us head into the next chapter of our lives. Thank you, and let’s have a great year!

 

Charlotte L. ’23

Good morning everybody and welcome back to Moses Brown! I hope you’ve all had an incredible summer and are looking forward to a brand new school year! I’m really so happy to see your faces again. Coming to MB in 9th grade has undoubtedly been one of the best things to ever happen to me. As my final year commences, I can’t help but reflect on the beauty that is my Moses Brown experience. This community has been the very backbone of my journey into becoming the person that stands in front of you today, and I am so grateful to have grown alongside each and every one of you. Throughout my time here it’s been a privilege to explore the world of Moses Brown and learn so much from and with you all both inside and outside of the classroom. In a place of never-ceasing passion and curiosity we’re so fortunate to have an abundance of opportunities that allow us to flourish as learners, stewards, and individuals. The wealth of knowledge granted to us as members of this community is unique, and will hold true in any of our future endeavors.

In class some time ago I encountered a verse by poet Ada Limón that has continued to inspire me years later: “Look, we are not unspectacular things. We’ve come this far, survived this much. What would happen if we decided to survive more? To love harder?” I offer these words as a guiding message to all of you this school year. No matter our age, we’ve all struggled to find peace as of late, but I believe our ability to persevere alongside one another has made all the difference in our collective wellbeing. Knowing the effect we have on each other, and using it for the utmost good is what makes us spectacular. This year, I encourage you to recognize your own value in this community and take chances. Try new things, meet new friends and always, always, be kind. This is the year to be here and fall in love with this place, each other, and every part of this community, for it is the life we live that is the lesson we teach, and this makes our ability to change the world infinite. Thank you.

 

Jaeson D. ’23

Good morning everybody!! I hope you are all doing well on this very fine morning outside here on our beautiful campus. I am beyond grateful and appreciative to have the opportunity to speak in front of you all today, it is truly a dream come true. So, as I sat in my room writing this speech, I thought back to the many, many convocations I have attended, and yes, including the infamous Dr. Glendenning ice bucket challenge.

However, I kept reminiscing about the very first one, when I was sitting in the front row, as a nursery student around 14 years ago to this day. I was a very shy child, bored out of my mind, picking blades of grass out of the ground, and in all likelihood, as a three-year-old kid, picking some stuff out of my nose too. And the reason this very clear memory of my childhood kept surfacing at the forefront of my mind was because of how I felt throughout my time sitting there. I wished the time away starting that very first year, and year after year, in my head, I just kept repeating, “another convocation complete,” waiting until I could finally graduate and become an adult.

And funny story, this past summer, I had the chance to get a taste of what that truly meant. I worked in the clerk’s office at the Kent County Superior Court, and on my first day, I was incredibly enthusiastic about the opportunity I received. So I showed up, dressed to the nines, and I was brought right away to a desk where I would be working, and was told to start filling out a spreadsheet for a project they needed me to work on. And as I sat there, I thought to myself, “wow… this is the real world huh? This is fun.” In reality, I did tremendously enjoy my time there, and worked with some spectacular people, but it gave me a newfound sense of appreciation and gratitude for what Moses Brown has meant to me as I enter my 15th school year.

I started my time here as a young child, afraid of the world and could barely hold a conversation; seriously, when my mom was talking to my classmates’ parents I would hide behind her (love you mom!). But this community nurtured me, and it is one of the biggest components of who I am today. No matter the endeavor, this community is filled with so many people who will support you endlessly. So, for my fellow senior classmates and the rest of the students this upcoming school year, please do not take your time here for granted, because these will be some of the best, and most memorable moments of your life. Take risks, step out of your comfort zone into the unknown, because 14 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago, and even last year, I would have never pictured myself having the courage to speak to you all today.

I don’t think I will ever experience anything close to the magic of the Moses Brown community, so immerse yourself in it, as it is a place that can transform you into someone that you had never thought you had the confidence to be. I know that with this community surrounding you all, every single person standing here today is capable of accomplishing whatever you want to achieve. Thank you all so much for your time, and I am looking forward to an amazing school year with you all!