The 2021-22 Opening Convocation, held non-traditionally in Ross Lynn Arena to allow for social distancing, included all the traditions that have marked the beginning of every school year for decades, including words of wisdom from the headmaster and Class of 2022 leaders. See photos HERE.
Student Council President Fred Schaeffer led the Pledge of Allegiance and School Hymn, and Co-chaplains Nash Kaye and Clayton Nearn provided a devotional and prayer.
Headmaster Pete Sanders welcomed all 645 students, offering a special welcome to 128 new students and 10 new faculty and staff members. “It is great to be on campus and all under one roof again,” he said. Referencing the “ambitious and forward-thinking” Strategic Plan, he emphasized that the school would not lose sight of its mission and founding values. To speak on these values as expressed in the school’s Community Creed, he introduced four seniors.
Forest Rudd led with his thoughts on scholarship and accountability, saying “Scholarship is about pursuing our passions relentlessly, not just studying to make a good grade on the next test.” Quoting Eleanor Roosevelt – “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” – he encouraged students to pursue their dreams, whether they are “as big as becoming the valedictorian at law school or as small as learning to fix a bike.” He described accountability as admitting mistakes, accepting the consequences, and learning from those errors. “Owning up to our failures can help [prevent] us from making the same mistake again.”
Turner Bishop described how service and involvement are essential to getting the most out of the time at MUS. His favorite memories – and some of the most powerful lessons – have come through extracurricular activities, including Mock Trial and elementary school tutoring. “Whether you prefer sports or quiz bowl, working in a team offers key leadership and teamwork experience,” he said. “While it may be easy to learn about the concepts of empathy or problem-solving, one can only develop these vital skills when thrust into a situation that demands them.” He closed by challenging his fellow Owls to participate in a new activity this year. “I can assure you that you won’t regret it.”
Kyler Herring addressed the values of respect and humility, indicating that our actions in both these areas speak volumes about character. “Life is not done alone,” he said. “Each and every one of us will need help along the way. At MUS we are all on the same team. We should respect one another as brothers. We should push each other to new heights and celebrate our accomplishments as a family.” Kyler encouraged his fellow students to grow as humble leaders and concluded with a quote from Ernest Hemingway: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
Coleman Whitehead spoke about truth and honor, describing a man he met on a cross-country road trip who embodied the virtues. Dan welcomed Coleman and his friends to his off-the-grid house, offered them water after their Grand Canyon hike, and told him there was no need for locked doors on his homestead. “The Honor Council seeks to promote an atmosphere like Dan’s ranch where we can all rest our heads knowing that when we leave our headphones in our locker, no one will take them,” he said. “The Honor Council wants to help you in your journey of maturing and being someone who can be trusted.”
Before administering the Honor Code Pledge, Headmaster Sanders highlighted the importance of honor and character by quoting former headmaster Col. Ross M. Lynn: “We try to develop character. For, in the final analysis if you haven’t got character, it doesn’t really matter whether you know mathematics or history.” He encouraged the boys to be truthful in their conversations by researching topics and backing their beliefs with facts. “Avoid the ad hominem framework we find ourselves in, a framework that is often caustically fueled by evening cable TV and fringe elements of the internet. Use the skills that are being inculcated at MUS – study, investigate, research, and then confidently speak your beliefs.”
Honor Council President McRae Dickinson described how the council works to uphold truth and honor at MUS. He then called a representative from each grade and a faculty member to sign the Honor Code book. (The book will be circulated to homerooms so each student and faculty member can sign.)
Assistant Principal Barry Ray closed the program by encouraging students to follow masking and social distancing protocols to keep COVID-19 at bay. Following some directions for the day, the 2021-22 school year commenced.