Faculty and students gathered in Hyde Chapel August 14 for Opening Convocation 2023 to launch the year and celebrate the principles that distinguish Memphis University School. Headmaster Pete Sanders reaffirmed the Mission Statement, defining MUS as a school for boys that focuses on academic excellence, service, and character.
“MUS is a school of high academic standards. We would not want it any other way. After all, if we ask for less, we will surely get it. MUS also asks more of you as a person.”
Illustrating the emphasis on personal growth, Sanders recalled the words of Col. Ross M. Lynn, headmaster from 1955-78: “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.”
Following the traditional Convocation form, Student Council President Will Klepper ’24 led the student body in the Pledge of Allegiance and School Hymn, and Student Council Chaplain Tol Thomas ’24 provided the devotional.
Sanders welcomed 110 new students and 10 new faculty and staff members. He then introduced four seniors to speak on the Community Creed, longstanding school principles codified by students in 2001.
Parker Blackwell ’24 spoke on scholarship and accountability, describing how the two tenets are essential to success. “We all have our separate passions and interests, but what unites us is the dedication we put into them. So today I encourage you: Don’t just do what you love or decide on a subject or career you enjoy. Become a scholar in it. Don’t just expect the knowledge to come to you. Research it, talk about it, dive into it, actually be accountable for your own growth. Nobody else is going to do it for you.”
Speaking on service and involvement, Henry Lindeman ’24 encouraged students to enrich their time at MUS through activities and service. He drew on his own experiences with the Civic Service Organization, swim team, Beg To Differ, orchestra, and MUS theater productions to illustrate some of the pursuits available. After relating the benefits of service, he cited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote: “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. … You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Brandon Nicholson ’24 described how integral having respect and humility are to maintaining relationships, especially in the age of social media and technology. “I challenge all of us to remember what our alumni have set as the precedent for this school as we go through this year: Treat others with respect and kindness while remaining humble, and hopefully these qualities will stick with us as we grow into mature young men.”
Charlie Treadwell ’24 challenged Owls to think about what truth and honor mean to them. “I believe that the level of trust expected and upheld by each member of the MUS community helps make this school successful. Every day I get to witness that trust that binds us together not only from the perspective of an MUS student but also from the perspective of a member of the Honor Council.”
Before administering the Honor Code Pledge, Sanders underscored its importance. “The Honor Code is the cultural glue that holds us together, and it is also that glue that will hold you together as you move forward in these hallways and beyond, after graduation.”
He encouraged students to abide by Honor Code principles by doing their own work and never lying, cheating, or stealing. Avoid the temptation of drawing from digital sources of questionable veracity, including those incorporating artificial intelligence, he said. “Instead, use the skills that are being inculcated into you at MUS: study, investigate, research.”
Following the pledge, Honor Council President Bennett Owen ’24 inspired his fellow Owls to “embody and encapsulate” the Honor Code. “While we are all here to receive an elite education, we are also here to develop and grow into men of honor and integrity who place the values that the Honor Code holds so highly above everything else.”
Owen then called a representative from each grade and the faculty to the stage to sign the Honor Book. The book will be distributed in homerooms for each student and faculty member to sign.
After some directions for the day from Assistant Headmaster Barry Ray, the 2023-24 school year began. See more Convocation photos HERE