Convocation is the act of calling people together. This takes on both literal and figurative meaning at Reserve's annual August ceremony in the Chapel, which marks the start of a new school year. This year Convocation took on added significance as it preceded the student dedication and official, long-anticipated re-opening of Seymour Hall.
On Sunday, August 19, the entire school gathered to hear from Head of School Christopher D. Burner '80 and this year's Student Body Co-Presidents Nupur Malhotra '19 and Zohaib Malik '19. Beyond the practical, news-sharing purposes of the event, Convocation symbolized the coming together of the community behind shared values and collective ambitions.
The highlight of Convocation is when the names of everyone new to the community — students, faculty and staff — are read aloud from the podium. This year, nearly 150 new names were announced, with students from Chicago to Charleston, Twinsburg to Tibet! More than 17 countries and 26 states are represented in Reserve's current student body. New faculty and staff also were welcomed, and the room buzzed with anticipation about the grand reopening of Seymour Hall, which would be celebrated directly following Convocation.
In his address to the school, Burner emphasized two themes: the importance of mentors and student bonds. "Mentors are vital for your development. They will not always be formally assigned, but they will help you grow and develop. Seek out a mentor. Be ready for advice and guidance. Develop the muscle of sustained academic work, and do so with the help of a mentor."
He continued, "At Reserve, there is an intentional diversity, from geographic diversity to diverse learning styles. You have an opportunity to learn from each other in ways that are more intense than other places. I look forward to the talents you will bring to this community."
As Convocation closed, Burner invited everyone in attendance to move to the front of Seymour Hall for a dedication ceremony to celebrate the $14 million renovation and Seymour's significance as the heart of Reserve's academic program. Green and white streamers flew through the air on the beautiful summer evening, and the excitement surrounding a new school year and a second century for Seymour was palpable as students entered the building with cheers befitting the milestone.
Once inside, the students toured the building, spoke with teachers and signed a commemorative banner. Elements of the renovation were on full display, including five new classrooms (up from 24), beautiful raised ceilings, custom woodwork and furniture, and 109 new mahogany windows. Wonderfully, for an August day, the building was the perfect temperature, thanks to the 63 geothermal wells that cool and heat the new Seymour and reflect a environmental sensibility important to the school.
Mark LaFontaine, Assistant Head of School for Advancement, summed up the dedication with this sentiment, "Seymour Hall represents the best of what Western Reserve Academy has been and will be. For our students, it stands proud and ready to meet all their talents and ambitions."
Please enjoy below a full photo slideshow with moments captured by Fine & Performing Arts Department faculty member Alan Doe.