Friday, August 21, 2015

Convocation Address 2015

Welcome, everyone, back to school. I particularly want to welcome all our new teachers and students. Will you please give all our newcomers a round of applause. Veterans, please do everything you can to make our new members feel welcome. We love new people!!

I have a new motto or slogan for this year: "Gaston Day School, a great place to learn and have fun!" I have chosen my motto quite deliberately and with lots of thought because it expresses the importance of maintaining balance in our school lives. Academics are a huge piece of the whole school experience that we are balancing--but academics are not the only thing. Extra-curriculars, family time, recreation and sleep are also big parts of our lives that must be properly balanced. 

Part of what I most value about my own education at Gaston Day was the fun that we had outside the classroom. Nothing symbolizes the rich social experience I had at Gaston Day in the early seventies better than the log cabin we built. One of the upper school boys owned some family land just off Crowders Creek towards Kings Mountain. Somebody got the idea of building a log cabin by hand and from scratch out there. For whatever reason, the idea caught on, and that is exactly what we did. Most of the upper school boys participated. We built an approximately 15' x 15' log cabin out of trees we sawed down on the property. The cabin had a pot bellied stove, a floor with stones from the creek, a tin roof, and mud chinking between the logs. It slept about five teenage boys comfortably. 

Building the cabin was a bonding experience. We were really proud of the finished structure, and we should have been. It was a first-rate log cabin--and we had done it all by ourselves. The cabin became the social center of Gaston Day School. Many bonfires and gatherings happened at the cabin. I recollect it all with great fondness. The cabin became our clubhouse, and the entire school used and enjoyed it. Everyone was welcome at the cabin.

What are your log-cabin experiences at Gaston Day School? Is it being part of the Blutopia staff and producing a great publication? Is it being part of the iGEM Team and working together on exciting scientific research? Is it being a part of an athletic team? Whatever it is, being part of a group that works and plays together outside the classroom is fun and a really important part of your education. 

Balance is not easy. Is it possible to over study? Is it easy to take on too many commitments and not do any of them well? I urge you to work hard on your studies and be focused when you do. That way you should have other time for recreation, extra-curriculars, family, and, yes, sleep. 

"Gaston Day School a great place to learn and have fun!" I hope everyone has a great school year, and we keep the balance right in our personal lives and our lives together.