As The Williston Northampton School gathers together for this opening school year, we have an opportunity to have a few moments of reflection. Although this is obviously not the real beginning, it is the formal beginning as we convene to celebrate the start of school. A year ago, I asked that we reflect on where we are, where we have come from, and where we expect to be metaphysically at the end of the school year.
This year, I offer a different theme, just because some things are new while others stay the same. I got into an R mood last year, and I decided to stay with it this year. I wanted to think of revelation, not in the sense of the last book of the New Testament in the Bible, but in the sense that we all had some experiences this summer that offered a new perspective on life. In the next nine months, until the closing ceremony of Commencement—the graduation of seniors—that we prepare ourselves for revelations that will come during the year.
We have all started anew at this point, but history has a peculiar way of intruding into our thoughts.
While it may seem contradictory to think of the final gathering in June as a commencement—sending seniors off to year another new beginning—we are in a way commencing this evening as well. Between two commencements is a journey, sometimes towards a specific goal, sometimes towards a greater understanding of community, and decidedly towards a better understanding of self.
We gather with a sense of purpose, with a continuation of or search for a passion, and with a concern for the integrity of both self and community.
Whether you are a student, first year or sixth or anywhere in between, or a faculty member, or a parent, or an alum, or a friend, I hope you will pause to think, to give thanks, and to look forward to a great school year.
Schools have traditions that help define and reflect them. One of ours is the ringing of a bell called The Angelus.
The Angelus was presented to Northampton School by the Student Council of 1952. Some say it became the heart of the Northampton School for Girls campus. The Angelus is a bell, which is inscribed “For Quiet Thought.” It was sounded every afternoon, at which time students and teachers paused for a minute of silent reflection. Maria Burgee Dwight LeVesconte, class of 1952, said at its dedication that the ringing of the Angelus was a call to “remind us of the necessity of thought…There is much to think about in that brief minute of our own.”
As we sound the Angelus, I invite you to join me in a few moments of quiet thought.