September 13, 2022
Dear Shipley Community,
The launch of the 2022–2023 school year has been truly joyful. Last Friday, students, faculty, and staff gathered at the Lower School to celebrate Convocation—the first of many PreK–Grade 12 community events that we will observe this year. While this particular event is new to Shipley, it reflected the spirit and values of our school community that endure.
Below I have shared a selection of the comments I shared to kick off an incredible year of learning, growing, and coming together to celebrate our School and one another. I hope you will take advantage of some of the many opportunities to experience the joy and connection of the Shipley community this year, including on Saturday, October 15 for Super Saturday.
Michael G. Turner
Head of School
You may be asking yourself, “What is a convocation?” It’s pretty simple. It’s a formal gathering. In schools, it generally symbolizes the official opening of a school year. It is also an opportunity to welcome new members to a school community.
At important moments like this, it’s helpful to make visible the symbols and traditions that mark us as a community. For instance, how we often begin gatherings by raising a hand, is not only an effective way to quiet a group. It reminds us that you, as an individual, can make a difference to your community, and that the community is counting on you to make that difference by paying attention to each other and taking action.
The seniors processed in behind a Shipley flag, carried by Middle School student Adam Hornberger ’27. The flag is green for hope and blue for loyalty. It includes our Motto: Courage for Deed; Grace for the Doing. We also presented the American Flag, carried by Upper School student Riley Medina ’24. It reminds us, as do the flag poles on both campuses, that Shipley exists within larger communities—communities filled with their own beauty, challenges, and histories, like this Sunday’s anniversary of 9-11.
We also have presented here the Mace, carried by Lower School student Aaron Carmichael ’31. At many academic institutions, including here at Shipley, the mace symbolizes the School’s authority to confer diplomas. It makes an appearance three times over the course of the school year: Convocation, whenever honorary degrees are awarded, and Commencement. Even the tie I’m wearing is worn by many of our graduates on Commencement.
So here we are: A community. Our community. Gathered together for the 129th time in the School’s history. Like Plutarch’s Ship of Theseus, this community has evolved and changed —through times of war and peace, of prosperity and challenge. Beginning in 1894 as a small school with a daring vision to prepare young women via educational excellence, to love learning and be compassionate participants in the world, at a time when most of the world thought such things were solely the domain of men.
Over those many years, the Shipley community has grown and diversified in size, in its racial/ethnic diversity, in the genders it welcomes, and in the socioeconomic background of its students. What has remained consistent is the commitment to educational excellence, our motto, and our mission. And here we stand today—at the beginning of the most important year in the School’s history.
Why is this the most important year in the School’s history? Because it is the one that stands before us. It is not the bygone years of our siblings, parents, grandparents, or former colleagues. It is not the recent years of challenge, loss, and dislocation. Nor is it the years to come—“next year,” the year you’re preparing for, or even college. It is this year, this community, right now. Look around, go ahead, look around… As the poet June Jordan said, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
Again, I say, this is the most important year in the School’s history. And just like raising your hand at the beginning of this gathering, you can make a difference—for yourself and for others.
So that’s it. That is convocation. We have honored those nearing graduation. We have welcomed new members of our community. We have reminded ourselves of a few key markers of what binds us together as a community. Now it is time to, as I like to say, “do the thing.”