Honor, Respect, Authenticity, and Growth from the Student Perspective
Reflecting on this year’s school theme of the MHS Core Values, four students and one faculty member shared inspiring comments at the recent Convocation.
Held as part of Family Weekend, Convocation provides a ceremonial start to the school year, with a student from each class speaking before the community. In a new addition this year, the ceremony also included a faculty-staff speaker, English Teacher Monica Kirschmann. Click here for videos of the Convocation addresses.
After School President Ayla Wallace ’20 welcomed families and introduced this year’s theme, Head of School Julia Heaton recognized service to the School. Honored this year for twenty years of service were Horizons Advisor and Coordinator of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs Kim Boland ’94 and Director of Health Services Christie Puz, while Director of Academic Counseling Sarah Virden, was recognized for twenty-five years of service.
In her remarks, Ms. Heaton reflected on her first reading of the School’s mission and how captivating she found the personal, inspirational, and aspirational words and ideas. She also noted that just a few years ago, the word “growth” was added to the mission. “I share this story because it reveals that even our most cherished traditions and ideals sometimes need to be revisited, reaffirmed, or even revised,” she said. “This is why I am so excited to hear from our speakers today, to hear what each core value means to them.”
Ms. Kirschmann touched on all four values, noting that they don’t tell community members what to be. “There’s no bar for us all to jump over; there’s no mold we’ve got to fit ourselves into,” she said. “I believe what grounds all of these values is this: You are enough. Yes, we want to strive for more and better and greater, but not because we are deficient of unfulfilled or incomplete. These core values tell us that we are enough already and, from a place of strength, we will become stronger still.” Read Ms. Kirschmann’s Convocation Address
Cherish Buxton ’23 addressed “Respect,” narrowing the focus to self-respect and sharing the story of her first MHS visit, when she felt she did not belong. After getting accepted, however, Cherish developed confidence and self-respect and decided to take a page from the Golden Rule. “Instead of just treating others how we ourselves hope to be treated, we should all treat ourselves as we’d like to be treated by others,” she said. “Being able to respect yourself, to love yourself, and to nurture every part of yourself is truly what will open your eyes to the power of respect.” Read Cherish’s Convocation Address.
“Authenticity” begins by being true to yourself, noted Kaity Weng ’22. It encompasses individualism, as well as harmony with others, embraces diversity and inclusion, and makes room for uniqueness while respecting differing viewpoints. Coming to Miss Hall’s, Kaity noted, her authenticity has flourished. “I was not authentic at all in China,” she said. “I was too shy to answer questions, although I had the right answer. Often, I was afraid of being wrong. I now look for opportunities. I want to voice my opinion. I want to learn. These can all be accomplished by being myself.” Read Kaity’s Convocation Address. Read Kaity's Convocation Address in Mandarin.
After the Grace Notes, the School's a cappella singing group, sang John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Nicole Forman ’21 explored “Honor,” offering three examples revolving around the theme. One of the examples touched upon her family motto of “If it is to be, it is up to me,” and how honoring one’s commitments to oneself leads to accomplishing goals. “Miss Hall’s teaches the students not only to know the core values of the School but also to embrace them in their actions,” she said. “Honor is not necessarily a word I use every day, but it is embodied in the actions that I take.” Read Nicole Convocation Address.
Serena Rice ’20 closed by reflecting on “Growth,” sharing her decision to attend Miss Hall’s after outgrowing her hometown. Although intending to become a writer, she grew more excited about math and science at MHS. After completing a project for Intro to Engineering, Serena changed her direction. “People call it a gut feeling that guides us somewhere, but I don’t,” she said. “ When you realize that you’ve outgrown your town, when you realize your ideas about your future aren’t set in stone, and when you’re trying something new, I call it growth” Read Serena’s Convocation Address.