Thanksgiving Convocation: Taking Time to Notice the Goodness Around Us

Before heading off for Thanksgiving break, Upper School and Middle School students and faculty gathered together in the arena while Lower School boys and their teachers streamed the ceremony live from their classrooms.

Director of Community, Inclusion, and Equity Johnnie Foreman gave opening remarks. “That we can come together, in this particular community, to celebrate Thanksgiving, as Gilman,” he said. “That’s something to be thankful for.” He emphasized that “gratitude can change everything” and that “an attitude of gratitude can help you focus on the right things.”

Dylan Kamenetz ’22 led the group in a prayer, and then music teacher Cheryl Nkeba led the Handbell Choir in song for an impressive and festive performance of “Celebrate With Ringing” by Michael Mazzatenta.

Senior class president Mac Nichols ‘22 spoke about the meaning of Thanksgiving. He shared about his experience eating Thanksgiving dinner “at the kids’ table” with his brother and his cousins. “For me,” he said, “Thanksgiving is about people. It’s about relationships.”

Next, the Upper School Concert Band, led by instrumental music teacher Peter Lander, treated the audience to a moving rendition of “Shenandoah” by Frank Ticheli.

Thanksgiving reflections were presented by members of the Lower School and Middle School. Fifth grader Eamonn K. provided the reminder that “everyone struggles at some point” to be grateful and to not take things for granted. He described the plot lines and conflicts of many of the Marvel movies he watched over the past year, and said that “gratitude could have solved a lot of their problems.”

Eighth grader Jute T. said that for him, Thanksgiving is about “the three F’s: football, food, and family.” He shared about his family’s traditions of playing flag football together and of going around the table to express gratitude.

Headmaster Henry P. A. Smyth addressed the School with this message: “If we stop to look around, perhaps looking a little more closely, then we will see so much good in the world.” He said he is reminded of it all around him when he is with the Gilman community.

As is tradition, Mr. Smyth then shared a long list of things he is thankful for, including Buck Showalter, the Gilman Five, first-class citizens, Mr. Foreman’s voice, “Ted Lasso,” Ravens back-up players, the way Gavin Sheets ’14 swings a bat at the plate and carries himself off the field, Papi’s Tacos in Hampden, the lives of John Layman and Eric Marner, and his family. He also gave gratitude for “the fighting spirit” of a senior at Gilman who is battling cancer. “Today is his birthday,” Mr. Smyth said, and then he invited the whole senior class to the front of the room. The boys gathered on the gym floor, arm in arm, and sang “Happy Birthday” to their friend.

“And, of course,” Mr. Smyth concluded, “we are all thankful for the Turkey Tango.” Then, prep-one boys, dressed in brightly colored paper feathers, performed the “Turkey Tango” to the crowd of adoring fans.

Watch the full convocation here or just the “Turkey Tango” below.