Although the 2018-2019 school year at KO began last week in unseasonably hot weather, the official start of the school year began at the Opening Convocation held on Tuesday, September 4.
Veteran teacher Rob Kyff led the assembly that marked the fiftieth anniversary of the merger of the all-boys Kingswood School and the all-girls Oxford School. He jokingly shared that Kingswood serenaded Oxford by playing The Turtles’ vintage tune, “Happy Together” to win Oxford’s heart and seal the deal.
He welcomed new Head of School, Tom Dillow, as the sixth head of school in the school’s history and the 133 new students who will join Wyvern Nation this year. He delineated the many talents of the incoming students including a Geo-Bee winner, a performer in 25 musicals, an All-Conference cross-country runner, and a published poet.
Head Senior Prefect Michael Aronson described his role to the student body as the individual who establishes a strong connection with the freshman class, with the school community, and with the 11 other prefects. He called upon the prefects to live up to their responsibilities by reaching out to others. He said the KO community is unified by everyone’s differences, quirks and the ability for everyone to express themselves and try new things.
Speaker Andrew Holland stressed to his fellow students to find balance in their lives at school. Although working hard is essential, Holland believes that the friendships and relationships that you build at KO keep you refreshed and focused.
The Dux Prize was awarded to those students who achieved the highest grades in their class for the previous year. The winners included: Ava Cashman ’24, Hana Roggendorf ’23, Emma Levinbook ’22, Emma Henry ’21, Esha Kataria ’20 and Mia Seymour ’19.
Ben Small ’19 offered an introduction to Tom Dillow by providing Dillow’s educational background, where he received his B.A. from Georgetown and his master’s from the University of Edinburgh. Small said that Dillow wants to build opportunities for all students.
Dillow said he was honored to serve as the next head of school and shared that he spent the summer learning more about the school and its proud history through conversations with alums, trustees, faculty and reading the KO News. One tongue-in-cheek observation Dillow made early on was the school’s obsession with snow days. (Dillow's last position was at a school in St. Petersburg, Florida.) Contrary to popular thought, Dillow said that the KO teachers are just as delighted about snow days as the students. However, he warned that since he grew up in Austria, snow was considered a “transportation enhancer,” and he showed images of Austrian students trudging their way to school in the snow.
Dillow also lightheartedly commented on the curious choice of the wyvern as a school mascot by original Head of School Nicholson since Dillow’s preliminary research revealed the wyvern to be sinister, primitive, savage, and solitary -- a creature that uses violence to solve problems.
Instead, Dillow selected three individuals who died this summer who best exemplified the core values of the school. Kofi Annan, the former head of the United Nations, showed “Care Beyond Self” by establishing the norm of R2P, which states that each government has the responsibility to protect its citizens. Aretha Franklin’s empowering rendition of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” turned Otis Redding’s original ode to female subservience version on its ear and ushered in an era for women’s rights and civil rights. Lastly, Dillow cited Senator John McCain’s integrity and strong moral compass, who always did the right thing even when no one was looking. “There’s a lot of talent in this room, and you are just getting started. The extent to which you care beyond self and live your life with a consistent standard is a measure to strive for. Let us commit ourselves to follow their example,” Dillow said.
The flags were presented to members of the Class of 2025 (Ava Pear and Ryan Sadowsky) and members of the Class of 2019 who had the most community service hours (Claudia Petrie and Janvi Sikand). Ellis Winfree and Josh Leshem and received the Class Shield for the Class of 2019.