Another exciting school year under the magnolias at Harpeth Hall has officially begun! On Wednesday morning, faculty and staff gathered to welcome our excited new and returning Middle and Upper School girls to campus. As girls poured into the parking lots, they greeted each other with shouts and hugs. As one sixth grader commented, she is "so excited to be back because I now get to see my friends everyday!"
After settling into their new pods and locker areas, students headed to the Frances Bond Davis Theatre for the annual all-school Opening Convocation exercises led by Harpeth Hall's Head of School, Jess Hill. As students took their seats, the air was full of anticipation of the traditional announcement of the senior theme. They did not have to wait long! Heralded in by The Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA," the seniors ran down the aisles in Hawaiian shirts, sunglasses and carrying pool floats to celebrate the theme of their graduating year: Go With The Flow In 2-0-2-0!
Ms. Hill took the podium to welcome all 717 students, including 130 new students arriving from 43 different schools. "Having 700 girls here for the first time in our history signifies our strength and I would say that Harpeth Hall is a force -- a good and positive force," Ms. Hill commented "and we are a force to be reckoned with."
After reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and how we, as America, worked to go to the moon despite the odds, Ms. Hill shared President John F. Kennedy's quote, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."
"I can't think of anything the people in this room couldn't accomplish if we all worked together. The country took a risk in trying to get to the moon first. I want to invite all of us to take a risk this year. The good news is that we don't have to go to the moon, but we will do something that takes courage on our own scale, and let's make sure we cheer each other on, when we see that someone in our midst is stepping out to do that," Ms. Hill responded.
Taking into consideration Harpeth Hall's mission to think critically, to lead confidently and to live honorably, Ms. Hill encouraged students to continue to take the hard path, to face challenges and to know that they are seen, heard and valued along the way.
In closing, Ms. Hill remarked, "Never underestimate your grit and determination, and never underestimate what the power of the girls in this room can do, as we support each other in our journeys. I am so grateful that we are beginning our trip to the moon together."
Her inspiring words were followed by Middle School speaker Josey Beavers '24, who welcomed students with an enthusiastic speech likening the beginning of the year to the beginning of a novel. "You're cracking open the first page of our 2019-2020 story. For some it is the first chapter at a new school and for others, it is the continuation of their Harpeth Hall series. Either way, I know that these next nine months will be unforgettable, so let's get started because we all have stories to write."
Senior Margaret Bone '20, President of the Upper School Student Council, encouraged students to Go With The Flow In 2-0-2-0. "Going with the flow, actually requires a lot of courage," Margaret remarked, "[you have to] have confidence in yourself. Harpeth Hall either has, or will give you the skills you need for tough situations [...] We are taught to be excellent problem solvers, and if you go with the flow, those skills will shine organically."
After assigning each grade a beach themed movie to help them navigate the school year, she closed with "remember you can 'go with the flow' because you are surrounded by peers who know your struggles, and still accept you for you are."
Director of the Middle School, Judi O'Brien, followed with an inspirational message on what Harpeth Hall's motto means. "Let Us Lift Up the Mind and Spirit" Ms. O'Brien commented, "reflects a vital aspect of our community; a place where the voices of girls and women are ever-present and valued. It's a good time to be a girl and it's a great time to be at Harpeth Hall!"
Armistead Lemon, Director of the Upper School, closed Convocation with words to carry students through the school year as they strive to embody Harpeth Hall's mission, "as we launch out on our new year you have the opportunity to explore and define what it feels like and looks like to lead confidently as a girl in your own way. Sometimes it might look like a roar of excitement, as it did for some of us this morning, and sometimes it might look like a quiet calm when your world feels stormy. Sometimes - many times - it looks like vulnerability, which is the willingness to be brave and say what is true for you, especially when it feels risky or uncertain to do so."
As is tradition, Convocation concluded with the senior class taking the stage and leading the audience in the singing of the Harpeth Hall alma mater.
Welcome back Honeybears! We hope you have an amazing 2019-2020 school year!
To view the assembly, click here.
Check back tomorrow for a special back to school video and more photos!