Comments by Head of School Geoff Wagg:
Welcome to the 2018-2019 Waynflete school year! On this day at our opening convocation, we take a moment to mark the beginning of the school year. This is one of the few moments when we gather as an entire community. Almost seven hundred people are here in this gym. Together, we have the opportunity to make this year incredibly positive for every member of our community.
Our convocation theme this year is courage. Courage is the ability to do something in the face of fear. Courage is a part of life; we all have moments when we must summon our courage. Take me standing in front of you at this very moment. I have been speaking in public for over two decades, and yet in the moments before I get up to speak, I feel this rush of fear. Yet just like in the movie “Inside Out,” my little “courage voice” takes control of the console and…here I am standing in front of you speaking.
Mark Twain wrote that, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.” Put another way by James Neil Hollingworth, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear.”
Think about that idea for a moment—the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear. These two quotes point to an important realization about life. Though we are naturally wired for fear, courage helps ensure that we don’t miss out life’s many opportunities. It would be hard to live a full life without courage. While fear is a part of who we are as humans, courage is its antidote.
As you listen to the reflections from our community on the theme of courage, I want you to think about how you can use courage as a way to help make this an incredible year for yourself and for those around you. Use courage to step beyond your friendship groups and invite someone you don’t know to have lunch (adults and students alike have an opportunity to do this). Summon the courage to try something new. Few of us here have sung in an intergenerational choir, yet some fifty of your classmates, teachers, and administrators will stand before you today, summon the courage to sing in front of an audience, and share with you the gift of music.
This year marks the 120th time that Waynflete begins a new chapter in its long-running story. This story will unfold in the months ahead, and each of you will help to write part of it. At Waynflete, we believe in providing you with a safe place for you to display your courage and to grow. Take advantage of the opportunity in the year ahead.
In a few moments, you will hear what other members of our community think about our theme of courage. Students from each division, as well as faculty and staff members, will share these reflections. This ceremony is filled with the joy of being together, of listening carefully, and of moments of silence and reflection. Listen to each of the voices reading reflections, and please don’t clap between them. At the end of the Waynflete Intergenerational Chorus performance, then we can take a moment and with applause thank them and our readers.
Note that the reflections that are about to be shared are not those of the readers, but rather those shared by all of you. I will now ask Remi, our first reader, to begin the sharing of reflections on courage…