The first Upper School assembly once again featured the senior prefects, who shared their wisdom and insight with fellow students. Each prefect expressed excitement for the year ahead, with its promise of restored traditions and routines, and eloquently explained how the students can make the most of the year by supporting each other and enjoying their days together at St. Albans.
Noted Head of Upper School Sam Schaffer at the end of the assembly: “I was struck by some of the commonalities in the speeches—the notion of community, of extending oneself, and of being a good brother … We have a long and fruitful year school year in front of us, and it’s great to be able to pause during this first full week and think about why we are here and what we want to make of ourselves and our school year. As Eli said in his speech: ‘It is in your hands.’”
In his speech, Head Prefect Eli Quarles ’23 recalled a cold evening in Lower School when he was waiting outside for a ride home and a dorm student unexpectedly invited him into the warmth of the Lane-Johnston Building. Noted Quarles: “Now, I’m sure this high schooler didn’t want to invite a random fifth grader into his home, but he did because he saw that I needed it. Situations like this are an everyday occurrence at St. Albans. Things as simple as helping each other with homework or paying for someone at Sam’s Bar—these things happen all the time, and it’s normal here, because that’s just what we do at St. Albans. We stick up for each other, we have each other’s back, because that is what this institution teaches us to do.”
Class Vice President Jack Kaplan ’23 encouraged students to build on last year’s momentum, when the school returned to more and more normal activities, and make this an even better year: “To make this year the best it can be, though, we all have to put in some work. By always acting with kindness and respect, we can strengthen this community and make this year incredibly enjoyable. When faced with difficult decisions, just remember the mission of our school, and do whatever is better for the boys. Go to chapel, and use the time to reflect and escape the chaos that exists outside the Little Sanctuary. Go to the BEEF games, and cheer for your friends who have worked hard to represent our community on the field. Help your friend out with the homework even when you just want to go to bed. Be a leader, and set a good example that your peers will follow.”
Steele Bohigian ’23 shared memories of grueling days at Tall Timbers football camp, the first quiz in Ms. Denizé’s English class, and playing games online during covid flex periods—all difficult experiences that, over time, have become cherished memories. “If you take anything away from my speech, take this,” offered Steele, “Push through your hardest challenges until they became your fondest memories, don’t be bogged down by your failures but learn from them, and relish every moment with your boys here at St Albans because you won’t get enough of them.”
Recalling the saying “you don’t know what you have until you lose it,” Pierre Attiogbe ’23 (whose presentation was prerecorded and shown on the screen) encouraged students to make the most of their time at St. Albans: “I ask you guys to appreciate everything about this school, and explore all that it has to offer. Make some great friends. Make memories. Everyone here should make it their goal to get to know St. Albans in every possible aspect so that there is nothing to fear when you leave it.”
Class President Theo Johnson ’23 asked whether the Class of 2023 was just another class passing through St. Albans, soon to be forgotten. “We could go through our days at this school focusing on ourselves, waiting until we’re seniors so we can be the ones on top. We can look only at what we can get out of the school. Only see what’s right ahead of us and … think about where each of us, individually, is headed, and what STA can do to get us there somehow. Then we can graduate and leave this place the same way we found it. Having only passed through.” But, Johnson suggested, that doesn’t have to be the case: There’s another way–a better way, I think, where we can be more than just people passing through. Instead of thinking about what we can get out of this community, we can focus on what we can give to better it. As we’re making our way through St. Albans, we can improve the path for those coming up behind us. We can embrace the wonderful traditions and ideals decade after decade of St. Albans men passed down to us, and pass them along to upcoming classes. We can strive to act with honor, and respect each other and our differences. We can set an example for each other.”