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Hun School begins 109th academic year with a call for ‘gratitude and kindness’

The Hun School celebrated the beginning of its 109th academic year with an all-school convocation.

The theme of the day during the convocation on Sept. 9 was “gratitude,” according through a press release through The Hun School.

Upper School student speaker Nia Oparaji, Class of 2023, reminded the crowd about the African philosophy of ubuntu, which roughly translates to, “I am because we are.”

“Here at Hun, we are all connected,” she said. “Understand that everyone truly cares about you and is here to support you.”

Nia encouraged her classmates to immerse themselves into the school community.

Middle School student speaker Ryan Spicer, Class of 2027, agreed.

“Hun has been my home and family,” Ryan said. He encouraged his classmates, including 16 new sixth graders, to have fun and make new friends this year.

Student performer Brendan Kelso, Class of 2023, played guitar and sang an original song, “Sentimental.” The song, he explained, is an expression of gratitude for how Hun helps students grow.

“Now I can see my potential/ closer now than it’s ever been,” he sang.

Junior Grade Level Dean and 2022 Endowed Faculty Chair Ted Shaffner elaborated on the importance of gratitude during his remarks and was specific about “the value of a community like ours.” He referenced “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf and encouraged students to have gratitude for the people throughout campus who work tirelessly to ensure the conditions in which “small fish ideas” are nurtured.

“So I am standing here today because of an award, and I am proud of what my students achieved that led to this moment, but the credit for the award also belongs to the people who clean the buildings and prepare the food,” he said.

“It belongs to the teachers who discuss their creative ideas, and their classroom struggles while playing a board game with me.

“It belongs to the administration and the development office who prioritize the student and teacher experience by creating new science and arts spaces, who fund professional development trips, and who have the vision and the work ethic to push through big fish ideas like NextTerm that redefine what it means to be educated in the 21st Century,” Shaffner said.

After his remarks, Shaffner christened the 2022-23 school year as the “Year of Gratitude.”

Gratitude to Head of the Hun School Jon Brougham

In his speech, Shaffner encouraged students to spend time with Brougham, who will retire at the end of the 2022-23 academic year. The two have known each other since before their time at Hun. Brougham hired Shaffner for his very first teaching position at a school in Virginia before hiring him again at The Hun School.

“Mr. Brougham’s greatest skill is what all teachers strive for – the ability to bring out the best in others,” Shaffner said. “He prefers to showcase those around him rather than trumpeting his own achievements.”

Shaffner encouraged students to remember that leadership isn’t a position of power, but of responsibility.

Board Chair Steve Wills also encouraged students to follow the example set by Brougham.

“You can lead with words, but when those words are coupled with actions, it makes all the difference,” he said. “By anyone’s account, and by any measurement, Mr. Brougham’s tenure has been transformational. Everything is improved, everything is better.”

For his 12 years of service as head of school, Brougham received the John Gale Hun Centennial Medal, which was established to acknowledge and recognize extraordinary leadership. He is the third person in the school’s history to receive the medal.

A Call to Kindness

In his welcoming remarks, Brougham spoke to the 152 seniors and PGs (post high school graduates) directly.

“You’re going to steer the way the school goes with your leadership,” he said. “Our community, we create and recreate it every day. From now until June, let’s not forget our responsibility to one another. Let’s show each other kindness.”

Shaffner echoed the sentiment.

“Be weird, be grateful, be curious, and be kind,” he said.

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