Convocation 2021: Classes and Community

SEPTEMBER 28, 2021

After a year and a half of virtual events, the excitement in the auditorium was palpable. The Nightingale community was fully in-person and back inside the blue doors for Convocation. This annual and student-led event is a special ceremony where students and members of the professional community gather together to welcome the new school year. Class VIII and Class XII filled the auditorium seats, while the remainder of the student body tuned in virtually throughout the Schoolhouse.

Nightingale Convocation tradition calls for student voices from each division—Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School—to share words of wisdom and advice to their fellow peers as the community moves into the new school year. This year, Amanda I. ’30, Daquavia B. ’26, and Zoe S. ’22, were invited to speak.

Senior class Co-Presidents Caroline H. ’22, and Genesis B. ’22, began the ceremony by thanking the faculty for their efforts throughout the last year and a half of remote and hybrid learning. The co-presidents shared their hopes and excitement for the year, and also recalled a few, poignant moments from their recent senior retreat to New Jersey. One moment in particular, Genesis said, was when the seniors decided on a motto for the upcoming school year.

“We came up with this: Leadership is embracing differences with empathy and fostering community.”

Following their opening words, Head of School Paul A. Burke introduced the first student speaker of the Lower School, Amanda I. ’30. Amanda shared her experiences over the last year and a half, and spoke on the challenges and lessons she learned about adapting to learning in a remote environment.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help—that’s what teachers and friends are for,” Amanda said. “Lastly, Nightingale is a place where we learn and make friends. My advice for everyone in this room is to keep trying and believe in yourself because you can do it, you just haven’t tried. Your teachers will always be there and, no matter what, never stop trying.”

Following Amanda’s speech, Daquavia B. ’26, echoed Amanda’s words and expanded on the importance of having the courage to fail.

“Have the courage to fall on your face, dust yourself off, and get right back up again. Have the courage to try something new. Have the courage to not be afraid—even if it means trying and failing in front of the entire school.”

To conclude her speech, Daquavia shared a quote from English author Neil Gaiman: ‘I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something.’

Next, Council President, Zoe S. ’22, moved to the podium and spoke about her primary goal for this year: to further grow the spirit of Nightingale’s community.

“By taking advantage of everyone's enthusiasm to build our community, we can come back together stronger than ever. I hope we can all embrace this unique period of change to bring about new traditions that grow our community spirit. I'm proud of how well the Nightingale community has been able to handle the challenges thrown at us, as these challenges have only made us stronger. And I know that as long as we stay together, this year will be a great one.”

Following the student speeches, the Nightingale Chorus sang beautiful renditions of "When I Rise Up" and "I Lift My Voice." Cast virtually from the Black Box, this moment was especially poignant as this marked the first time that our singers were able to lift their voices in song together, in-person, since early 2020.

Once the choral performance concluded, President of the Alumnae Association Devon Caraher ’96, welcomed the community back to Nightingale and commended the student body for valiantly making it through the challenges faced from the pandemic.

“It was challenging, uncomfortable, and difficult, marked by protocols, plans, procedures, and pods. By leaning into these protocols though, we leaned toward each other. And despite the months of physical distancing, our community became even closer. In the face of adversity, we found our strength.”

However, even though many obstacles were presented, Devon noted that this experience offered more opportunities for engagement and collaboration, resulting in a closer Nightingale community.

“As a result, and thanks to all of you,” Devon said, “the blue doors have never been more open, more welcoming, and more inclusive.”

Before concluding with the school song “For Nightingale,” Mr. Burke shared a few words of inspiration to lead the community into the new school year.

“Thanks to you, each one of us at Nightingale, all of us here is a connector and a builder, and author in a book that's written by all. Seize your chance. Pick up your pen. Adjust your microphone. For it is in that imperfect and beautiful act of voicing and hearing that we find our purpose and we build Miss Nightingale's community, in this, our one hundred and second year.”