By Carina Cole ‘22
Convocation is a special event for everyone at Mercersburg: faculty, parents, new and returning students, alike. As the Irvine Memorial Chapel pews begin to fill, you can feel the excitement in the air and the anticipation of the possibilities of the year. This can also be a nervous time for some, especially for new students eager to start classes and make new friends. The ceremony is an official welcome, or welcome back.
The traditions of Convocation have been carried down through many generations. One tradition in particular, the naming of the countries, is especially important for this. One student is selected to read the names of all the countries represented in the Mercersburg student body and displayed by the flags of each in the back of the chapel. Will Whitmore, Mercersburg School Minister, said, “It is not known exactly when the tradition started. It’s importance is that all the different members of the community are recognized.”
This year, Brandon Lamer-Connolly ‘20 had honor of naming the countries. Lamer-Connolly said, “Being involved with this tradition boosted my public speaking confidence, and Convocation helps everyone settle into their
routine.” Koko Chen ‘23 agreed. She said, “As a new student, I enjoyed the ceremony. It was interesting to see what traditions Mercersburg has.”
Head of School, Katie Titus, offered a welcome to all for the new year. Convocation is, likewise, one of her favorite Mercersburg traditions. “It marks the start of school, the first time we gather in the chapel together, and the first time we sing the Alma Mater together. Hearing the voices of faculty, students, and the Chorale is something I love. Recognizing the global diversity is a meaningful moment and the ceremony sets a tone for the year ahead.”
Students also paid tribute to the special importance of Convocation. Aba Sankah ‘20, student body president, spoke about the need to push pause in the stressful times of life while remembering to take time for yourself. “I love all aspects of Convocation because I feel that it is the official start to the year where I get to reconnect with friends, hear the speakers, and take pictures,” said Izzy Jones ‘22.
Another tradition stipulates that one faculty member offers the address at Convocation. This year chemistry teacher and avid runner Sue Malone spoke. She has been teaching at Mercersburg for 33 years and plans to retire at the end of the year. She knew that it would be hard to pack in so many details of her time at Mercersburg, but over the summer she had time to reflect on her time teaching. She spoke about the importance of following your passions, seeking out new adventures, and staying mindful that the best parts of life come after high school. “With every year, I continue to grow and experience new things, and I do so through taking risks.”
An important part of every Convocation ceremony is music, provided by organist and carillonneur Jim Brinson and the students of the Chorale, who performed the piece Ex Sultate Juiste. After the singing of the Alma Mater, students recessed to the front steps of Main Hall for class pictures, a four-year senior picture, and the all-school picture.
All of these traditions bring together the new and returning students to start another year as one entity. In many ways Convocation is the cornerstone of the strong foundation of community that makes Mercersburg such a truly special place.