During opening assembly on Monday, August 31, the senior class was seated on the Haertter Hall stage facing parents, the faculty and the rest of the student body. Mr. Abbott welcomed everyone to the 2015-2016 school year – Burroughs’ 93rd, and senior Camille Lo Bianco sang the national anthem. Head of School Andy Abbott welcomed everyone, including 101 seventh graders, three new 8th graders, ten new 9th graders, one new 10th grader and one new 11th grader. He talked about the start of school as a time for reflection and a time of hope. He said education is the belief in humanity … in the future, and told the seniors he looks forward to their leadership in the coming year.
Senior Class President Chris Wong and Student Body President Terrell Cornell began that leadership – Chris talked about not making this just another year: traditions are great but don’t be limited by them; seize opportunities and run with them. Terrell declared this The Year of the Explorer. He said students should create their own paths … should take power from the fact that there is an enormous amount of support here and virtually no judgment. Their full prepared remarks follow.
Click HERE for campus candids from opening day, courtesy of Andrew Newman (fine arts, school photographer).
Chris Wong, Senior Class President
Good morning, students, faculty, Mr. Abbott, parents and of course, class of 2016. Welcome to the beginning of another exciting year at John Burroughs School. Only 109 more days until winter break, for anyone else who’s counting – I know I am. Just kidding, but to tell you the truth, I’m actually really excited for this upcoming school year. In fact, more so than I’ve ever been in my past five years here. This excitement, I realize, is partially because I’m psyched to spend another year of unraveling the mysteries of spacetime and shooting stomp rockets with the incomparable Dr. Winters, but more so because of these 101 people gracing this stage this morning, 102 I guess, if you count Mr. Abbott, who is always a sight for sore eyes on an early morning like this. Anyway, here we are. Hopefully it’ll live up to my expectations.
To the seniors… When I spoke to the incoming seventh graders last Friday, I told them to enjoy every single they moment they have at this place, and now I pass this message on to you. Because while their time here is only just beginning, ours has reached its twilight. We’ve had a good run here. Let me take you all back to seventh grade when our fallen comrade Alex Yuan, achieved school wide fame, known simply as “The Running Kid.” May his legacy never be forgotten. Or remember the time at dance marathon sophomore year, when Ryan Mill singlehandedly eliminated four junior D2 Mathletes, one after another, to launch the underdog Caniacs into the semifinals of the biennial dodgeball tournament. However, all good things must come to an end. In nine short months, on June 2, we will be walking into graduation grove, looking fresh to death in our white tuxedoes and dresses, and that will be it. But before that, we still have a lot left to do here. We have one last dance marathon ahead of us. We can finally leave campus, which I can personally guarantee to the teachers, not one of us has ever even dreamed of doing before. But most of all, we have one more year to simply be together as a class, because beyond this year who knows the next time we’ll all be together in the same place like this. So this coming year, forge a new friendship or make peace with an old enemy if that fits you better, and just enjoy every last second you have left with this amazing, unique, rock-eating family that we have formed over the last 5 years.
All throughout our time here at Burroughs, everyone here, not just the seniors, has been given or have formed their own idea of what the typical year at Burroughs ought to be like. For the seniors, this means Senior Drey Land, followed by lighting the bonfire at pep rally and Halloween assembly. For freshmen this means health class with KBJ, your first exams and Bio Drey Land. While these traditions are what make Burroughs the unique, amazing place that it is, they can also be dangerous. I’m by no means condemning these things, but this place and the people sitting around you right now are too amazing, and your time here too short, to sit back and rest on tradition. Continue old traditions, but don’t be limited by them. Don’t be afraid to make your own path and be your own person. Take Griffin Kennard, for instance. Everyone knows and loves the tradition of senior guys getting little kiddie princess backpacks for the first bit of school, but Griffin thought to heck with that and is now sporting the cleanest, sexiest, most professional briefcase I’ve ever seen. Sure he can only fit a textbook and half a spiral notebook in there, but it’s the principle that counts.
All that I’m really trying to say is, make what you want of this place. Burroughs offers so many opportunities to all of us lucky enough to go here, in academics, sports, the arts – but it’s our job to seize those opportunities and run with them. It’s up to each and every one of us, starting with the seniors, all the way down to the seventh graders, to not let this year be just another year. Not just another yearbook to be put on the shelf in the pub lab with all the other yearbooks from the past 80 years and forgotten. Make this year one to remember.
Terrell Cornell, Student Body President
Good Morning to all of the students, faculty, staff, parents, and everyone committed to being an active member of the Burroughs community for this, and hopefully many more years to come.
Last year’s student body president, Jimmy Lemkemeier named the year the year of the “Trust Fall.” He encouraged me to fall into and get involved with any clubs or activities that piqued my interest, regardless of how unsure I was, or how little I knew of them. This led me to try acting for the first time, without knowing what a callback was; join the golf team, without knowing how to hold a club; and the scariest of them all, running for student body president, which brings us here today.
When I began to think about what I would name this year, I immediately took note of how huge of a responsibility it would be telling 600 other people how to go about an entire year of middle or high school. Then I realized that we go to John Burroughs, which is far from your everyday middle or high school. The amount of support here is unbelievable and the lack of judgment can be at times be outright unsettling.
Every day, you can expect to see a wrestler proudly doubling as a tenor, or a football player, shamelessly dancing and singing in the winter musical. This has to be one of the greatest advantages of coming here, aside from being an academically exceptional school. I’m talking about the lack of “roles” that you have to play here. The lack of implied paths that you are forced to follow, based on only a few of your interests. Here, no one is weird, because everyone is weird. Everyone embraces their uniqueness.
Trust Falling is a wonderful exercise, but the act of trust falling implies that there is uncertainty, or that the outcome is dependent on someone else. But there is absolutely no uncertainty here. Every time someone tries something new here, they are certain that they will walk away more enlightened, and even glad that they did what they wanted to do without letting themselves or anyone else restrain them. And if we aren’t hitting those notes like we want to, or we aren’t kicking the ball as far as we need to, we keep working at it, and we don’t give up.
When you think about it, it’s actually a little rebellious. This year will be the Year of the Explorer, albeit, a courageous one, though some may use the word stubborn. The explorer that journeys into the unknown, with absolutely no fear, and only the highest expectations of what they would find. This year, all of you should be that explorer. To some of you, these names may mean nothing, but to those of you who are familiar, think Odysseus. Think Lewis and Clark or Marco Polo or Magellan. But I’m not going to tell you to be these people, you have to be the Burroughs explorer. You have to create your own path. You can’t be Odysseus, because you aren’t Odysseus. And you can’t be Magellan, because you’d be, considerably old if you were. But you have to be you. You can follow absolutely no one else, because then, you wouldn’t be an explorer. And even though you may not know what the consequence would be of sailing the stormy waters or venturing into the darker cave, at least you did it. At least you tried. And at least you will walk away knowing something about this cave, and more importantly about yourself that no one would’ve known if you hadn’t have been so brave. That feeling of diving into the unknown should already give you sense of accomplishment.
So moving forward, while you are at the club fair, if astrology really interests you at the time, sign up for the club, regardless of how much candy they offer you. If you come to school one early Thursday, and you see that the ALS club or the Montgomery Plan meeting is looking pretty enticing, let nothing, whether it be the fear of embarrassment or failure, stop you from using the arms that you were born with to push that door open.
Happy exploring, thank you.