School Year Begins with Sky-high Temperatures and Enthusiasm

Sept. 4, 2018 — It was a hot and sweaty beginning to the 2018–19 academic year, with temperatures and humidity levels making Memorial Chapel feel like a tropical rainforest during NMH’s first all-school gatherings. But during Convocation — the ceremonial opening of the year — even the boys steaming in their jackets and ties seemed ready to get going. 

“Be opportunistic,” declared student speaker Coby Shalam ’19 as he encouraged students to take risks and try new things. “Do something that frightens you,” added Amelia Simmonds ’19, who delivered the Spade Oration, NMH’s annual paean to hard work in the year ahead. And Head of School Charles A. Tierney III P’16, ’19, ’20 said he wished for every student the discovery of “something you can get lost in” — a class or activity or goal so inspiring and motivating that “you experience what experts call ‘flow.’”

A few days earlier, at Matriculation, Tierney had been equally philosophical. “We’re marking the beginning of a very special experience in your lives,” he told approximately 200 new students, from ninth graders up to postgraduates, who were joining returning students at NMH. “Many cultures have ceremonies to welcome newcomers, who bring fresh perspectives and energy,” he said, and NMH’s includes a ritual called “signing the book” — which is by now actually a collection of books. NMH students have added their signatures, some dating back to 1898, as a way to demonstrate commitment to “common values,” Tierney said.

After Convocation, as the first day of classes continued to unfold, students shed their dress clothes and slipped back into shorts and flip-flops. They started checking homework assignments, made sure they had the right textbooks and school supplies, and made a beeline for the soft-serve ice cream machine at lunch. Weather forecasts were predicting that the heat and humidity would continue for another day or two, and adult after adult urged students to drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Eventually, students began to roll their eyes. Now the school year had begun. — By Jennifer Sutton