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Opening Convocation 2023

On an unseasonably hot September day, Gilman officially ushered in its 127th school year. Led by bagpiper Dan Lyden, a line of students waving class flags walked ahead of kindergartners and students in prep-one, who paraded hand-in-hand with the class of 2024 into the stands at Chandlee Field. The Traveling Men sang the national anthem before Director of School Counseling Services Dr. John Mojzisek offered an invocation focused on gratitude. "It is good to be here in the rich blessing that is our Gilman family," he said. School President Pitman Smyth '24 and Senior Class President Jamie Howard '24 each gave a reading, the latter from a song called "Wicked Twisted Road" by Reckless Kelly.

Head of School Henry P. A. Smyth stood before the entire student body and members of the faculty and staff to deliver his first formal address of the school year. Departing from his usual convocation routine of talking about a book he read or a trip he took this summer, Smyth's remarks centered on the many hours he spent driving in a car this summer — and what he listened to during that time. He called out "Wicked Twisted Road" — the song from which Howard gave a reading — as one of particular inspiration. He drew two lessons from the verse below:

My first love was a castle in the sky
I never thought I'd make it 'til I had the guts to try
And I sat up in my tower while the whole world passed me by

"The first lesson is: In order to get anywhere in life, we have to try. Trying often takes courage," he said. "Whatever your hopes and dreams are, it will take effort to realize them. And by definition, effort does not come easily. And accomplishing what you want to accomplish will require you to find strength and courage you may not realize you possess."

He continued: "The second lesson is more of a warning. It's about the realization that not everything turns out to be as great as we originally think it will. … As I listen to this verse, I hear an artist expressing regret. … He missed out on life." Smyth spoke more about the value of staying connected to the world, engaging with the world, and living in it. "This is what we hope you will do at Gilman."

Then he revealed the theme for the new school year: Unleash the Hound. The theme signifies showing unmatched passion and relentless energy, supporting one another, having school spirit, and being a part of a community. Smyth added that it also means unleashing your potential. "As we start this school year, unleash the Gilman Greyhound in you. Aim high and reach for your goals. And remember that you're part of something larger than yourself."

The convocation concluded with the Traveling Men singing "O God Our Help in Ages Past" followed by the benediction given by Assistant Head of School for Community, Inclusion, and Equity Michael Molina.

Watch a Recording of the 2023 Opening Convocation

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