On Friday, September 2, Viewpoint’s Eighth Annual All-School Convocation, held in the Paul Family Athletic Center (PFAC), joyfully marked the start of the 2022-23 school year. For the first time since 2019, the whole school was able to gather together in one place, and the jubilant energy of students and faculty filling the PFAC was felt by everyone.
In keeping with past Convocations, the seniors entered the PFAC with a bagpipe player at the lead. The Class of 2023, many of whom were once in Primary School at Viewpoint, then created a human tunnel for the Kindergartners in the Class of 2035 to enter the gym for Convocation. While this was the first of many assemblies to come for the Kindergarten students, for the seniors this event was a welcome reminder of the years of assemblies that helped to define their years at Viewpoint.
Immediately following the National Anthem, performed by the Upper School Concert Choir, and the Pledge of Allegiance, the program began with remarks from Head of School Mark McKee:
“This year, I welcome you and I challenge you to a journey of talking about Honor, one of Viewpoint’s core values and our theme for the 2023 school year. For over 60 years, Viewpoint has been committed to educating students to live lives of character, contribution, and purpose. In the dictionary, Honor is defined as ‘high respect and great esteem—as in a place of honor—and as adherence to what is right—as in an Honor Code.’ It is a noun and a verb. We can honor our parents and teachers; we can honor the law or constitution; we can honor our own commitments. I believe we all aspire to live in honor and dignity as a fundamental human right. And yet, I don’t think we talk enough about the honor, in our personal lives, in our school and community, in our country, and our world. In a moment we will hear definitions of Honor from students across Viewpoint’s grades, kicking off what I hope will be a year of conversations about honor. My dream: that we will talk about how we can become the community we want to be, where all are honored, all feel a sense of belonging, and all can develop their true talents and purpose.”
The highlight of the morning was hearing two students from each division – Rose Partow ’33, Edward Meng ’33, Colin Pan ’30, Usha Sarvaiya ’30, Sydney Gold ’27, Mark Torpoco ’27, Lena Schultze ’23, and Jessica Cao ’23 –share their thoughts on the theme of Honor in their families, in their friendships, in school, and in the world.
Eighth Grader Sydney Gold described Honor in school this way: “… Like Calvin Coolidge once said, ‘No person is honored for what they received. Honor is a reward for what they gave.’ Our school has given so much to every one of us that it truly deserves our respect. We as students use the knowledge, work ethic, and social skills we learn here at Viewpoint as the foundation that the rest of our lives will be built upon. I do my best to honor this school each and every day by trying my hardest in classes, being a good team member during sports, and being a student among students and a friend among friends.”
Convocation also offered the opportunity to announce seven awards for outstanding teaching, “recognizing excellence and contributions above and beyond our talented people.” Each recipient was nominated by their peers. The Handley Chair of American Studies was awarded to Nan Cohen. The William Turner Levy Chair for Inspired Teaching was awarded to Asif Azhar. The Second Levy Chair was awarded to Mary Jane Dority. The Spirit of Viewpoint Award was given to Nicki Thompson. The Excellence in Teaching awards were presented to Carrie Dietsch, Gemma Green, Craig Didden, and Lara Didden. Again, the joy in the room was palpable as each name was announced.
The Convocation closed with a final and moving performance of Viewpoint’s Alma Mater by the Upper School Concert Choir. The students then set off for the day, eager and energized for the exciting school year ahead.