As is custom, the first Upper School assembly of the year featured the senior prefects sharing stories, offering their wisdom, and celebrating being together once again. Noted interim Head of Upper School Sam Schaffer at the conclusion of the speeches: “What a wonderful framework and tone for the year these guys have set. It reminds me a lot of what happened in this week’s remarkable Cathedral ceremony where the VI Formers walked into the Cathedral with the C Formers. It really shows us what I think this place is all about.”
Lance Gartrell ’22 compared the kindness of a stranger who proffered an umbrella on a cold rainy day to his experience at St. Albans and reminded students to always rely on each other for support:
“No matter the troubles I experience out of school, the umbrella of comfort and togetherness that the school supplies evaporates any rainstorm of bad thoughts and hardships … Whether you are a freshman or a senior, cherish the year that we have ahead. There will be hardships. There will be challenges. There will be times where you think you’re overwhelmed. I cannot stress enough that no matter what position you’re in, rely on your brothers, as they equally rely on you. Whether it be sports or the classroom, we build, struggle, strive, and prosper together.”
Henry Mali ’22 recalled the difficulties he faced in Form III — and the community that helped him through: “When I struggled in math, it was a faculty member who is not even my teacher offering to help me that allowed me to understand how to write a proof in geometry. When I struggled with defensive positioning as a sophomore on the soccer team, it was those individual moments with an older player that helped me, that allowed me to make the change and improve my play. When I struggled to find ways to converse with faculty members, it was watching my upperclassmen role models that gave me confidence in forming relationships with my teachers.” Said Mali. “It was the St Albans community that picked me up when I was too afraid to ask for help.”
Theo Sotoodehnia ’22 offered William Wordsworth’s “happy warrior”—who accepts challenges with relish and moves with gusto—as a model. “I hope everyone here will embrace the happy warrior mentality, not only for themselves, but for everyone around them ... I don’t mean everyone has to be smiling cheek to cheek every day. I simply ask that all of you treat everyone around you with grace, humility and kindness. It will go a long way when school is in full swing, “ said Sotodehnia. “The little things you do mean a lot to the people around you.”
Head Prefect Rustin Khosravi ’22 predicted the year ahead would be one of growth as well as restoration, as students learned Upper School traditions and created new ones. Noted Khosravi: “Three-fourths of us have never experienced a full STA Upper School year. And that means the majority of this room doesn’t know about post-lunch yells on Fridays, Thanksgiving wishbone pulls, or shouting when we read the words ‘fierce wild beast’ in the chapel,” noted Khosravi. “In a way it’s pretty awesome,” he added. “We, as a school, get to reinstill these tremendous traditions and create new ones. We can combine bits of old and new, which will make for a better, more productive St. Albans. In other words, this year will be just as much of an opportunity for growth as it is for restoration.”
Grant Wincup ’22, who was unable to attend the assembly but shared the speech he had prepared, encouraged Upper Schoolers to become fully involved. "Many of you have not had the opportunity to experience the full range of things this school has to offer," noted Wincup. "From the endless list of clubs to the sports fields to the impossibly interesting subjects in the classroom, St. Albans embodies the word versatile. To me, that’s what makes this place so special. But I am not asking you to participate in every club or every sport. What I encourage you to do, however, is get truly involved in a couple of things that you’re passionate about. It’s not up to me or my fellow prefects to make that decision for you, but rather for you to use the resources around you, being this community and the teachers and staff, to help find the path that suits you."