West Hartford’s Kingswood Oxford began the new academic year on Sept. 5, 2023.
Submitted by Jackie Pisani, Kingswood Oxford School
Kingswood Oxford’s school year began officially with Convocation on Sept. 5. It was an opportunity to hear from students and the head of school, who set the tone for the months ahead and sent the community off on positive footing.
Two students, Eden Gonzalez ’28 and speaker Nicolas Tippner ‘24, offered encouraging advice. Gonzalez shared that she was nervous as a new student last year since she was leaving her old friends behind and not ready to let go. After a week of meeting new people and teachers at KO and freeing herself of assumptions, she said she found her new home.“When you give yourself time and when you open yourself up and immerse yourself into the community,” she said, “you’ll find your place and your support system.”
Tippner advised on each grade in the high school. To the freshmen in this year of growth and discovery, he urged them to embrace every moment. To the sophomores, he extolled them to look for new positions and give back to improve life on campus. To the juniors, he told them to trust the college process. To the seniors, he told them to set meaningful goals and lead the school with purpose and integrity.
“It’s time to reflect on our shared goals and expectations, rekindle our commitment to exploration and learning, and the importance of community and collaboration,” Tippner said. “Let’s approach each day with a sense of wonder and make an impact.”
Head of School Tom Dillow’s speech focused on KO’s core value of perseverance, which Dillow said is the most cited disposition of successful people. He shared his experience trying to complete a particularly challenging jigsaw puzzle, Renoir’s Bal du moulin de la Galette. Despite the setbacks and the source of frustration it gives him, Dillow said he knows it is not beyond his capabilities and will give him great joy in completing it. “I’m preserving at persevering,” he said.
Dillow cited famous individuals who did not let setbacks deter them from achieving their goals: J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, who faced a series of 12 rejections and Thomas Edison’s many, many roadblocks in producing over 1,000 patents.
“The importance of grit is that you will have trials in life,” Dillow said. “You will make mistakes; something won’t go right. There is always a disconnect between our dreams and the realities and hard work it takes to achieve it.”
Dillow offered three suggestions to help preserve: do not give up; accept failure and make mistakes often; and adopt a growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset assume that one is born talented. Those with a growth mindset understand that intelligence develops over time, mistakes are something to capitalize on, and learning should be enjoyed.
“The nice thing about perseverance is that the only standard you need to set is your own,” he said. “You’re not competing with anyone else.”
One of the lovely traditions at Convocation is the presentation of the class flags that are flown at graduation. This year, the class of 2030 flag was presented to Oliver Nicholson ’30 and Nina MattamanaI ’30, and the 2024 flag was presented to Loretta Syzch ’24 and Michael Bzowyckyj ’24. Cienna Freeman ’24 and Sinani Sebadukka ‘24 were given the 2024 class shields upon which all the seniors will inscribe their initials during Senior Week.
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