The Jazz Ensemble played festive tunes as everyone took their seats to hear Head of School Kolia O’Connor’s welcoming remarks on the power of hope. “In hope, we have the power of the imagination to spur us on, to help us envision a time, a place, and a world: one that is different – better than the one we occupy now,” Mr. O’Connor said. He emphasized three lessons for the students to embrace. First, people before stuff. Secondly, things could change in an instant, so be grateful for those blessings we already have. Finally, the winter solstice reminds us that after the darkest time of the year, the days will lengthen, the sun will shine longer, and there are reasons to be hopeful for the future.
“I, for one, have always been an optimist,” said Mr. O’Connor. “I look to the future with hope. I am hopeful because, when I look out at each of you, I see the future, and what I see is boundless opportunity. May this season, whose traditions are infused with light in the midst of darkness (think of the Menorah or the Star of Bethlehem or the Kinara of Kwanza), bring you peace and happiness and hope for a wonderful 2020,” he concluded.
The assembly was filled with artistic expression. Ashley, Sarah, Aekam, and Bella from the Middle School musical theater dance class performed to “All I Want for Christmas is You,” and the Senior School Orchestra, conducted my senior Mishon, played Erik Morales arrangement of “Silent Night.”
Representatives from each division shared fond holiday memories. Grade 5 student Isabela highlighted her family’s traditions. “To me the holidays mean trying to pull off an all-nighter with my brother David, but we never succeed because either we fall asleep two minutes after we make our fort, or we hear something in the dark and run upstairs immediately.” She talked about drinking her mom’s hot cocoa, belting out Christmas tunes, and having competitive snowball fights with family and friends.
Maddie, a Middle School student, focused on being thankful during the season. “Thankfulness can mean many things. For me, being thankful means acknowledging what others in your community, family, and even school do for you through action rather than words,” she said.
Maddie spoke about the impact she felt when her family volunteered at a homeless shelter in Pittsburgh on Christmas Day last year. “After spending the day there, I realized something. I realized that not everyone has a house they can go to after school. Not everyone gets three meals a day. Not everyone has a loving family as I do. It made me think about how important it is to show gratitude by giving back to the people in our community that might not have what we have. It made me think about what I am thankful for,” she shared.
Prateek, Administrative President of Senior School Student Council, saluted his classmates on their accomplishments during the fall – a successful production on the Senior School play, Around the World in 80 Days
, and the girls varsity tennis and the co-ed varsity golf teams winning state championships – before shifting his message to transforming a new year’s resolutions into a reality.
“My new year’s resolution, to much of my parents’ dismay, isn’t about academics or the dreaded SAT. Rather, my new year’s resolution is about one of the things that I really enjoy doing – to make a couple of songs that I’m really proud of,” he said. Prateek recalled how recently friends inspired him as he compiled a song. “We’re quickly approaching a new decade, and creating a realistic resolution and remembering you have people around that can help provide encouragement and support on your journey through a new year is something we must not forget. I wish everyone happy holidays again and a happy new year,” he said.
The Senior School Chorus and Jazz Ensemble treated the audience to “Dig that Crazy Santa Claus,” and in keeping with a long-standing tradition, the assembly concluded with each division singing their respective part of “Deck the Halls.” Click to watch highlights from the assembly