For the first time, Convocation, the formal ceremony that marks the official start of the school year, was held outdoors on Tuesday, September 7. While traditionally held in Elfers Hall, this year, the event kicked off with a spirited Bearcat procession around the campus and down the driveway to Main Circle. Dorms posters were held high, a Hotchkiss flag was proudly flown, and more than 600 students cheered as they converged at Main. The newly-imagined ceremony captured the spirit of new beginnings that resonated throughout the week of Opening Days this fall. After a challenging, but ultimately successful completion to the 2020-21 year due to the Covid epidemic, Hotchkiss is back – with 611 students strong! (Watch video recordings of Convocation and Matriculation below.)
After the procession, the entire community gathered on Main Circle to listen to remarks from Head of School Craig Bradley, Director of Spiritual and Religious Life Jason Larson, and School co-presidents Sydney Goldstein’22 and Izhaar Rosa’22.
Head of School Craig Bradley told the crowd that, “No matter where you were last year, whether here at Hotchkiss or anywhere in the world, last year was tough. All of us spent time behind face masks and indoors behind Zoom screens. We missed time with people who are important to us. Each of us experienced some degree of social isolation.
“Yet there can be silver linings in times of great difficulty. And one of the important silver linings from our experience of the pandemic is a reminder to value what we have.”
In welcoming the students, Bradley said, “As I think about the year ahead at Hotchkiss, I am imagining a year of revival… of renewal… a renaissance of sorts. Given what we’ve been through over the past 18 months, collectively we have an opportunity to revive the warm and joyful spirit of Hotchkiss, a spirit of mutual support and connection.
“This year is a chance to remember our values and return to traditions of the past with even greater joy. That’s really what this celebratory procession is all about.
“A lot has changed in 18 months, and thankfully we have now come back together in person, side by side, to begin a new year at Hotchkiss, our 130th year.
“We recognize this convocation – this coming together – as a gift and cause for celebration. The pandemic has taught us how easily this, our in-person community life, can be taken away,” he said.
He added, “As we gather here together in this joyful moment, I would ask you to think about the idea of reciprocity. All of us receive wonderful gifts from this School.
“Each of us is called upon to give back. One way to do that is through mindfulness and gratitude. It is important to pay attention to what we receive, to not take it for granted.”
Convocation capped a week packed with Opening Days activities, including proctor training, dorm head meetings, and new student orientation. Throughout the week, proctors and orientation leaders played key roles in coordinating activities and helping newly-arriving students feel at home at Hotchkiss.
The start of the school year is also a time to honor Hotchkiss values and traditions. On September 2, seniors gathered under the Harris House tent for Senior Dinner and Chapel. The School formally welcomed students new to the School in 2020 and 2021 during the Matriculation ceremony on September 7. Those students introduced themselves by announcing their preferred names, hometown and state, and by writing their names in the School's archival register, an historic record of their official entry to the Hotchkiss community.