The relative quiet of summer gave way to friendly shouts and hugs of recognition this week as the Island welcomed 740 new and returning students for opening activities for the 2022–23 school year, culminating with the first day of classes and a convocation on Thursday, September 1.
The activities began on Friday, August 26, with the arrival of preseason football players, resident advisors, and prefects and continued with other fall preseason sports training, faculty preparations, dorm move-ins, programs welcoming new students and their families, and reconnections of friends, classmates, teammates, and colleagues.
New families enjoyed a reception on Tuesday organized by the Loomis Chaffee Parents Association, and new students began orientation activities while their parents attended informational programs. New students and their parents met faculty advisors, and Head of School Sheila Culbert spoke with parents before families said their goodbyes. New student orientation programs continued Wednesday while returning students arrived on campus and settled in.
At Thursday morning’s convocation, Student Council officers, Sheila, and Associate Head of School Webb Trenchard welcomed the full student body with humor, guidance, and advice for the year ahead.
Seniors Kirsten Lees and Anthony Liu, the Student Council president and vice president, welcomed new and returning students and offered advice to their peers during their opening remarks. Describing Loomis as a place of infinite possibility, Anthony urged students to take advantage of both the educational and social opportunities that the school offers. Kirsten gave practical and aspirational advice to the assembled students, including urging them to continue to be “proactive in addressing injustices within and beyond our community.”
Sheila spoke of the optimism and hope that the beginning of a new school year brings to a learning community. “You are all now members of the Loomis Chaffee community,” she added. “With that membership comes a set of obligations and responsibilities and a commitment to a set of core values: academic excellence, freedom of expression, respect for others, honesty, integrity, and the embrace of diversity in all its forms.”
The school’s “multi-faceted diversity” makes Loomis Chaffee a great place to live and to learn, Sheila continued. “It is the exploration of our differences that is at the core of a liberal arts education,” she said, urging students to lean into those conversations, listen respectfully to other viewpoints, examine multiple perspectives, and try to reach consensus. “Our democracy rests on the very idea that civic-minded people can disagree with one another on fundamental issues but can come together to work out their differences in the interest of society,” she said.
Referencing George Orwell’s novel 1984 and the banning of books in parts of the United States and other countries, Sheila said society should embrace diverse viewpoints, not limit them. “Question why some people want to stop you from reading books or knowing some histories. ...Read those books, read that literature, know that history,” she said.
Webb closed the assembly by introducing this year’s schoolwide theme of empathy, defining the term and sharing examples of empathy through the words of Emily Dickinson, the Dalai Llama, and Maya Angelou.
View a video of the opening days.