Wooster School welcomed over 400 students and faculty to Convocation of Wooster’s 83rd year of excellence in education. As is the practice, Reverend Ross recited the school prayer to begin. Then, Headmaster Tim Golding spoke to all assembled directing special attention to new students who stood to a rousing ovation. [Mr. Golding’s convocation speech is provided in full at the end of this report.]Remembering last year’s civility theme, Headmaster Golding asked students to “inculcate (a good vocabulary word to look up) civility as a continued mindset,” even as he brought another goal to the fore. Thus, with a drumbeat of hundreds of stamping feet, he held up a sign and announced the year’s theme: IMAGINE MORE
After applying the theme to the external world beyond Wooster and citing a memorable passage from Dr. Edward Hallowell on the magic and wonder of childhood, Mr. Golding turned to our daily lives at Wooster.How can IMAGINE MORE be applied to our school community?
• Personal growth
• Student and faculty leadership
• Student voice
• Enrollment growth
• Imagine that less is more --- contradiction? Think about it.
• Responsible risk taking
• Depth over breadth---do what you do well
• Excitement on campus this year
• Greater sense of our new prekindergarten through grade 12 school community
• Purposeful understanding among young and old
• Stability for each individual and all classes
• Compassion for each other
• Acceptance of differences
• Challenges and solutions
• Attention to detail
• Support of each other
• Laughter and joy
• Financial support for our school foundation
• New ideas
• Different ways to look at our own environment
Headmaster Golding recognized and welcomed back the returning students from Wooster’s Year Abroad: Jamie Kamedulski who was in France and Jennifer Weiss who was in Spain.
He then asked the Lower School Head Rae-ann Allen, and the Head of Upper School, Anne Cass, to join him for a presentation of “Crayons to Commencement,” students who have attended Wooster from the Lower School, and more specifically, those students who began their educational career in Wooster’s Kindergarten and are now seniors.
Following, he introduced the Senior Prefect Leslie Duran to lead the pledge of Wooster’s Honor Code.
Culminating the convocation was a special feature: a performance of the Don Q’s, Wooster’s doo-wop group. They began by asking whether we could imagine that pigs could fly. Then they threw some rubber pigs into the audience, which began a series of flying animals to the glee of all.The program ended with a music selection after which students and teachers walked up the hill to their divisions for the start of the new school year.
CONVOCATION ADDRESS BY HEADMASTER TIM GOLDING
Good morning and welcome to Wooster’s 83rd year. May I have a good morning response from our audience? It is a great way to begin every day---a great habit. Thank you---and continue to use it throughout the year. It will make us all smile.
One of Wooster’s strengths is extending to new students, new parents, new faculty, new staff, and new administration a very genuine heart-felt welcome. We have over 90 new students here and 16 new faculty, staff, and administration. If you are new this year, please stand and be given an enthusiastic round of applause from the rest of our veteran Wooster School community.
An opening day custom, which I instituted at Tower Hill, my first headship of 19 years in Delaware, and continued at Wooster last year, we will continue today. Our youngest Wooster students are a new first-ever class at Wooster, twelve Pre- K students. Given the excitement of starting day, they are not with us. However, our next youngest Wooster students, kindergarten, first and second graders, are sitting around me at the podium with our school leaders, the seniors, the Great Class of 2009. Symbolically, it demonstrates to all of us the breadth of learning ages busy and creative each day at Wooster. In addition, it reminds the seniors that younger children often watch and look up to our oldest students with uncertain awe but respect. A positive, compassionate tone set by the seniors will be the cornerstone of expected behavior for all of the younger grades to emulate. The seniors will play a central role in the balanced year we plan to have. I have asked for senior support in this endeavor from today forward to graduation. I am confident in them as a class, and I do not expect to be disappointed.
Last year’s convocation began a new tradition at Wooster---I announced the theme of the year, not in my summer letter, but in person at this convocation. I believe in speaking from the heart and directly to the assembly of our school family. For historical reasons, I’ll remind all present today that civility, respect for one another, and our property, was last year’s theme. Rather than discarding such an important concept, I would simply ask each of you to inculcate civility as a continued mindset, even as I establish an additional goal, theme for the 2008-2009 school year.
Thus, with a drum beat, and an open mind I want Wooster School to focus on this year’s theme of IMAGINE MORE. What do I mean? Let’s start in a context beyond our lives at Wooster to the world beyond us and then draw the focus closer to home to our daily lives at Wooster.
Our brains, our will, our hearts, our courage can take us places we never imagined. When our entire school community has this as a goal, think of the possibilities. Our youngest students are blessed with the most fertile imaginations; they believe in miracles every day. They believe anything is possible. Seniors, just ask the younger students you sit with if you do not believe me. As one gets older, we get more cynical and/or resistant to thinking outside of the box. I urge all of us to be more childlike in using our imaginations each day.
Some of my summer reading included a superb book by Dr. Edward Hallowell entitled Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness. Given my new and beloved role as a grandfather to four-month old Peyton Barber Riegel, I was drawn to the following passage from Hallowell’s book. As the adage suggests, we are never too old to learn, and I share Dr. Hallowell’s message on childhood as an example of how to IMAGINE MORE: and I quote:
Childhood can be---and should be---a time of magic for all children, everywhere. Think for a moment. Close your adult, seen-it-all eyes and think back, seeing the world through the eyes of a child, when everything was new.
Remember when. Before you grew up. Before you learned what adults think about giants and gnomes and grinches and fairies. There was a time---you had it once, so did I---when days were much longer than they are for us now, and tomorrow never seemed to come, especially if you wanted it to, but that didn’t matter because there was always something somewhere to look forward to or someone to get into mischief with or some cookie jar somewhere that had at least a few crumbs left in it for you to make off with.
Do you remember when your toys were all you ever needed? Or when one doll could occupy you for hours? Or when nail polish was about as exciting a substance as was ever invented? Or when a stuffed animal, or better yet an array of stuffed animals, gave you the warmth you needed when you were angry at the rest of the world? Or when your brother could turn a two-inch plastic figure he found in a drain on the street into a hero with superpowers? And when a frail, old grandma could make you feel safer and better than ten million dollars could do today?
There was a time when everything we needed could be found in a battered, chewed-up, stained blanket or in a friend nobody liked but us, or in a cozy corner with an old comic book or a Hollywood magazine. (end quote)
A well known phrase suggests that man’s reach must exceed his grasp. Imagine if hundreds of years ago, explorers, scientists, thinkers had not imagined frontiers beyond their immediate landscapes. Each generation has an obligation to the previous generation to imagine more whether it be for curing disease, finding new forms of life (water on Mars) or looking at problems of society in a different way. Think of just the last ten-twenty years in how change due to free thinkers, great imagination have improved our quality of life expectancy. However, it is critical we initiate more imagination for solutions to problems we have created by mistreating the environment. The student body of Wooster 2008-09 can lead the way by imagining a better world on every level, every day. Let’s not waste a minute. Our brains, properly nourished, can help change the course of civilization sooner rather than later.
Turning to our daily lives at Wooster, how can IMAGINE MORE be applied to our school community?
· Personal growth
· Student and faculty leadership
· Student voice
· Enrollment growth
· Imagine that less is more --- contradiction? Think about it.
· Responsible risk taking
· Depth over breadth---do what you do well
· Excitement on campus this year
· Greater sense of our new PK through 12 school community
· Purposeful understanding among young and old
· Stability for each individual and all classes
· Compassion for each other
· Acceptance of differences
· Challenges and solutions
· Attention to detail
· Support of each other
· Laughter and joy
· Financial support for our school foundation
· New ideas
· Different ways to look at our own environment, especially given the loss of trees due to the airport deforestation project.
Our theme this year is to: IMAGINE MORE---it is an easy theme to remember and to practice daily.
Come For A Visit!