The opening convocation at Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford was a lesson on risk taking, failure, and success.
Submitted by Jackie Pisani, Kingswood Oxford School
Although classes started last week, the Opening Convocation on Sept. 5 marked the official start of the Kingswood Oxford school year with all 508 students, faculty and staff in attendance at Roberts Theater.
An escalating, genuinely positive hum reverberated off the theater walls with catching up conversations, loud hellos, waves and hugs. From the look and sound of it, this energy is a harbinger for a dynamic year ahead.
Head of School Dennis Bisgaard distributed the Dux Prizes to those students who achieved the highest grades in their class the previous year. The following students were named:
Upper Prep – Elias Brandt ’23 of West Hartford
Form 1 – Sung Min Cho ’22 of Westfield, MA
Form 2 – Emma Henry ’21 of South Glastonbury and Olivia Pear ’21 of Moodus
Form 3 – Esha Kataria ’20 of Ellington
Form 4 – Mia Seymour ’19 of West Hartford
Form 5 – Aparajita Kashyap ’18 of West Hartford
Following years of tradition, flags were presented for the bookend classes of 2024 to Ava Cashman ’24 and Jack Decker ’24, both of West Hartford and of 2018 to Sharif Mutasim ’18 of West Hartford and Caroline Doyle ’18 of Simsbury both of whom had the highest number of community service hours.
Two wooden shields were presented to Form 6 President Mark Place ’18 of South Glastonbury and Form 6 Vice President Noah Gibson ’18 of Bristol for the members of the Class of 2018 in which to carve their initials.
Skylar Barron ’18 of Rocky Hill stressed to the students that despite academic pressures of achieving good grades, the most important lesson is to put one’s best effort forward in everything that one does. She said that the teachers at KO are less concerned about students receiving an A, but in a student’s willingness to work hard, listen, focus and learn.
Ben Tauber ’18 of Glastonbury introduced Board Chair, Bradley Hoffman ’78 who offered the Convocation address.
Hoffman shared that he had an inauspicious start to his time at KO when he boarded the wrong school bus to King Philip School on the first day of classes.
Despite this rocky start, the KO faculty mentored Hoffman and helped him grow academically and personally, and Hoffman admitted, “literally changed my life for the better.”
Hoffman cited that his company, the Hoffman Auto Group, and KO share similarities in racial, ethnic, and religious diversity and age as, both KO and Hoffman Auto Group marked their recent centennial.
Hoffman asked the students to capitalize on their experience at KO by embracing risk and failure. He said, “In my company, I, like your amazing teachers, push my team to take risks. I will also put them in situations where they may feel uncomfortable. They may even say, “I don’t think I can do it,” but I push them knowing they are capable and will feel amazing when they have succeeded.”
The measure of success, Hoffman added, is not always in money and material items, but in becoming a leader in both small and big gestures. Whether a upperclassman says hello to a younger student or a person does something positive when no one is looking, these, too, are instances of leadership.
Hoffman ended by asking the students to make each day count with positive differences, to make the world a better place for those around us and to give back to the community.
Kingswood Oxford is the preeminent co-ed college preparatory day school for grades 6-12 in West Hartford, just steps from Blue Back Square and West Hartford Center. It serves 508 students from 62 towns in Connecticut and western Massachusetts. A KO education empowers students to become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers and innovative and ethical leaders.