On Wednesday, August 26, 904 Marksmen donned their uniforms, logged online, and began academic classes for the 2020–2021 school year. While students attended from their “home classrooms,” the entire community paused in the morning to continue an important St. Mark’s tradition: Opening Convocation.
Livestreamed from the W. W. Browning, Jr., Great Hall, Eugene McDermott Headmaster David W. Dini welcomed boys to the start of a very unique school year. “As we head into this new year, boys, indeed we all know it is a time of challenge, disruption, change, and indeed some uncertainty. But, it is also a time of opportunity.”
The boys were also welcomed by Kathy Crow, President of St. Mark’s Board of Trustees and the parent of Jack ’14 and Rob ’17. “St. Mark’s is more than just a school where minds meet to exchange facts and knowledge. It is a community of deep support, encouragement, and advocacy, where young men dream big and others are there to help them reach their goals,” Mrs. Crow said.
This year’s Convocation speaker, Zach Gilstrap ’18, shared his own experience and insights trying to keep a balanced life while virtually attending Yale University. “I want to encourage you all to keep pushing through the Zoom fatigue, keep your eyes on your goals and aspirations,” Zach said. “Your teachers and classmates are just an email or a text message away — it is paramount that you all work together and stay positive during remote learning. It will make things so much easier.”
He also encouraged students to take note of the social justice movements that continue to sweep the nation and reflect on how their own lives have shaped their personal perspectives: “We must use this time to work hard to embrace what I believe is one of the most principal human qualities: empathy, or the capacity to understand what someone else is feeling, observing their experiences from their point of view.”
Addressing his fellow students, Student Council President Blake Hudspeth ’21 encouraged his classmates to “think about the little things we can do for each other, for it is the small acts of kindness that both strengthen existing relationships and cultivate new ones.”
Though the school year began virtually, students and teachers were welcomed back to campus on September 8. St. Mark’s has been working tirelessly throughout the summer to prepare for the resumption of on-campus classes while prioritizing the health and safety of the entire community. From major facilities upgrades
to faculty-wide COVID-19 testing
, the School is following the guidance of local, state, and federal health officials and has already introduced myriad new protocols to ensure health and safety when students and teachers return.