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All-School Convocation Completes Opening Days 2019–20

Connect to a gallery of photos from Opening Days 2019.

Connect to the Opening Days video.

An opening convocation on Thursday, September 5, concluded Loomis Chaffee’s week-long Opening Days activities and marked the beginning of classes for the 735 enrolled students for the 2019–20 school year.

With students arriving on the Island representing 48 different countries and from across the United States, a sense of anticipation and excitement built during Opening Days as everyone on campus prepared to embark on the new school year.  

The activities began on Thursday, August 29, with the arrival of preseason football players, and the following days were filled with other fall preseason sports training, faculty preparations, dorm move-ins, programs welcoming new students and their families, and reconnection of friends, classmates, teammates, and colleagues.

Events for new students and families included a reception organized by the Loomis Chaffee Parents Association and informational programs for families as students settled into their dorm rooms and met their roommates. New students and their parents met faculty advisors, and Associate Head of School Webb Trenchard spoke with parents before families said their goodbyes. All new students participated in orientation programs on Tuesday and Wednesday.

At the opening convocation this week, Webb, who is overseeing day-to-day operations of the school this fall while Head of School Sheila Culbert is on sabbatical leave, introduced this year’s all-school theme of “Belonging” and related a story from his own high school experience of feeling like an outsider at a new school. While everyone in the Loomis Chaffee community has their own unique backgrounds and experiences, he said, “We are all equally welcome here. … We all belong equally.” How we treat each other and how we make each other feel is important, Webb noted, because community is impossible without belonging. He said he looks forward to having further discussions about the school theme at convocations and campus activities this year.

Associate Head for External Relations Nat Follansbee, who will take over Sheila’s external responsibilities this term, told the Founders story for the benefit of new students, faculty, and others who had not heard it before. In creating an estate that would later become the Loomis Institute, the five Loomis siblings hoped that “some good” would come from the tragic loss of all their children and heirs, Nat said. They believed an education was important to a life well lived, and they envisioned a school for students from a multitude of backgrounds, perspectives, and beliefs. According to Nat, the Founders intended students to use their education for the advancement of the common good. “We now belong to the Loomis family,” Nat said, we are duty-bound to fulfill their expectations.

Seniors Maral Asik and Min Jun Jung, the Student Council president and boys vice president, respectively, shared advice for members of each of the class years. Maral encouraged freshmen to get involved and sophomores to enjoy the year and make more friends. She assured juniors that the year would not be as “hard as it is hyped up to be,” and she rallied her fellow seniors to help each other through challenging times and to celebrate victories together.

With a humorous flair, Min offered advice for what students should not do. “Do not let your experience at Loomis Chaffee be defined by your successes, rather let it be defined by your failures” and how you learn and grow from them, he said.