September 2, 2021
Looking out before his peers, faculty, staff, family, and friends from the Simosa Field and Track, Jaden Otero ’22 shared three life lessons that he learned throughout high school: to never give up, to take risks and be bold, and to make good choices.
Otero was one of many speakers at Cheshire Academy’s annual Convocation ceremony, which celebrated the start of the 228th academic year. Convocation started after a full day of activities, which included a pop-up school store, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream truck, advisory group meetings, club fair, and a barbecue dinner on Slaughter Field. Following the festivities, students gathered by grade before walking in procession led by senior masters Chip Boyd and Laura Longacre.
On the turf field, musical performances included The National Anthem sung by the 1794s a cappella group, Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in G Minor” by Haoyu “Ester” Luo ’22, and John Legend’s “Never Break” sung by Luke Parkerson ’22 and Amelia Williams ’22 and accompanied by faculty member Kate Bobsein on piano.
Temilade Onile ’22 was the first to address the audience. Onile spoke about the privileges that she and her classmates have as students that not everyone has, such as attending an independent school and having access to adequate health care amid a global pandemic. “I want everyone here to always be grateful for all that you have and remember to always count your blessings instead of complaining about things that seem inconvenient. If anything, this season of our lives has taught us that we should value all things, big or small.”
Audra Foti ’22 followed Onile with a poetry reading: “Don’t Quit” by John Greenleaf Whittier. In Whittier’s piece, he urges the reader to push through life’s twists and turns, difficulties, and challenges.
In his remarks, Siyuan “James” Guo ’22 reflected on the word “childish” and how it has negative connotations attached to it: silly, stubborn, and immature. Guo, however, believes there are strengths to being childish, including being creative, courageous, curious, and explorative. Whether it was from a fictional character, physicist Marie Curie, or mathematician Abraham de Moivre, Guo said their “childishness” pushed humans further in their understanding of the world around them.
“At this moment, we must still be ourselves and maintain both our courage and curiosity, regardless of our age, position, or identity,” Guo said. “Striving to achieve a higher goal is always good, especially if it sounds impossible…You might want to ask why instead of memorizing a fact or theorem to better recognize its underlying, or try new tactics in a sport or competition to become the MVP of your team.”
Head of School Julie Anderson P’19,’23 spoke about one’s authentic self, and the journey they may take to find it. For Anderson, that journey began in high school, where she solidified her decision to be a teacher, feeling most at home guiding students in their study of a new language. However, her peers did not think that being a teacher was “enough.” So, in college, Anderson pursued a degree in biology, but she always felt she was following someone else’s dream. It wasn’t until Anderson’s advisor pulled her aside and helped her find her way back on her path.
At CA, students will receive the right level of support they need to discover their authentic selves. “Many of you chose Cheshire Academy to make a fresh start. I want you to know that we chose you. We chose you to be a bright light in this community. We chose you to be our future leaders. We chose you because we know that you want to make a difference in this world that so desperately needs change makers. This is a place where we will push you to be brave and to be your authentic self. You may not see the bright light that shines within you, but we do. Cheshire Academy will be the place where you will always call home.”
To read remarks from Convocation, click the names below.
More photos of Convocation can be found at the Flickr gallery here.