Kaitlyn Janssen, the Senior Class President, delivered the address at Closing Convocation, and put the questions asked at the closing ceremony of her summer camp to the entire student body. The Kindergartners sang the Alma Mater. Head of School Byron Hulsey read aloud the book Beautiful Oops, which celebrates the opportunities and possibilities of mistakes. Yearbook editors Claudia Mitchell and William Alexander announced the theme of the 46th Acclivity to be "Unlimited Perspective," and its dedication to Dorothy Bridges, registrar and college counseling assistant, and Jenna Pirani '85, Middle School administrative assistant. The following are Kaitlyn's remarks:
For the past 11 years I have gone to a camp in Georgia called High Harbour. At the end of each session we have closing ceremony, which has always reminded me of the Closing Convocation we have here at Randolph. It is the last time the whole camp comes together and is a time to reflect and celebrate the week.
Our camp director, Drew Hullinger, always closes by asking us three questions: if we made any new friends over the week, if we faced any fears, and if we learned something new. After getting feedback from some of the campers he goes on to say that we came to camp with the sole intention of having the most fun as possible, but we are leaving with a new group of friends, the pride of overcoming a fear, and knowledge about something we never thought we’d know.
After Drew's talk we pass out candles to every camper. Only Drew's is lit. As the whole camp sings a song called "Pass It On," he lights someone else's candle with his and they light another person's who lights someone else’s and so on. By the end of the song every candle in camp is lit. Drew then explains that only one spark started this amazing chain reaction and caused the whole camp to be lit up. He explains that we are each a spark just like his candle was, and how we can be the ones to light the fire in someone else. It doesn't take much before the whole room is lit up. This ending ceremony leaves everyone feeling much more accomplished and empowered to go out and shine their light to the rest of the world.
I feel like Drew's talk is perfect for convocation today. We have come here with the sole mission to learn and be a part of this community of learners, but in reality we have accomplished much more. So I want to ask all of you the same questions.
Have you made new friends this year? Whether it be a new person in your class, someone you were partnered with for a project, or maybe you joined a new sports team. I think it is safe to say that every one of us has gained at least one new friend over the course of this year. Over the 13 years I have been here I have gained at least 80 friends. Our grade stands here today 80 strong and we worked hard to be sitting here today with our new friends, our Kindergarten buddies. We have grown so close with each other and our faculty that now we can lean on each other in times of need or when trying to face our fears.
Have you faced a fear? It could be as simple as trying the monkey bars on the playground or as big as joining the debate team. My friend, Grant Billings, took a giant leap this year and tried out for the School’s spring play. He ended up starring as one of the lead roles, Goat, in The Robber Bridegroom. Every person in the audience was amazed by Grant’s acting, and it was an experience he’ll never forget. I know a lot of the seniors faced their fear of heights and roller coasters this past Sunday when we took our trip to Six Flags. With our friends and faculty there to encourage us, we can face our fears everyday.
Randolph has always challenged us to take chances and try new things in more areas than just the classroom. We truly are surrounded with extraordinary opportunities in the academics, arts, and athletics. But this is not where it ends. We are challenged everyday to build our character and find our sense of self. So I think my last question is the easiest one of all.
Have you learned something new?
I'm not just talking about what you learned in math class everyday. I know we have all learned something new that has helped shape us and our character, but the true question is what are you going to do with these things you have learned? How can you help make a difference outside of the classroom? Are you going to be that spark just like the candle we lit every closing ceremony, lighting up the whole room? Can you take your knowledge and character that is formed here everyday and light the fire in those around you?
Every year, I am amazed by how much I have learned and accomplished here at Randolph by thinking back on these three questions. I hope that all of you sitting here can answer these questions for yourselves and also feel that sense of pride and accomplishment. We are so lucky to experience these things together, and I hope that we can all go from here and let the world see the light that has been lit here in school by fanning the flame of each others' sparks and lighting the fire in those around us.