As is tradition, Browning boys in Grade One through Form VI, along with the entire school community, assembled in Christ Church for Opening Assembly on September 8. The stroll to the church under blue skies and sunshine provided a great opportunity to greet old friends and make new ones.
Headmaster Clement greeted the community and extended a particular welcome to new boys and faculty. He gave particular thanks to the “amazing” construction crew and the maintenance staff for their incredible hard work in readying the building for the first day of school after a summer of extensive construction and renovation. Headmaster Clement noted that the work has been completed, “with all the pieces falling into place but for a few.” He thanked the faculty for “being good sports and showing their ‘grytte.’ ” He read Browning’s mission and diversity statements, then introduced music teachers David Prestigiacomo and Lucy Warner. Mr. Prestigiacomo asked the fourth grade boys to come forward and help lead the singing of the school song. Remarks from the student government president followed; he asked that Browning boys "take leadership roles" in the coming year.
Mr. Clement noted that throughout the summer, he counted on the division heads Laurie Gruhn (Lower School) Chris Dunham (Middle School) and Jim Reynolds (Upper School), to help him prepare for the new year. Each offered welcoming remarks. Ms. Gruhn quoted former Headmaster Charles W. Cook ’38 who felt his own success was due to the personal interest his Browning teachers took in him. “There is a unique spirit that sets Browning apart from other schools,” he once said. Ms. Gruhn concluded by advising the boys to “reach for the stars!”
Mr. Dunham spoke of the extensive additions and renovations to the School over the past three years, from the new lobby, library, dining hall and central stairway, to the expansion of the Lower Gym and numerous other improvements. He noted that while the building itself is new in so many ways, Browning’s mission remains the same: to be the best that we can be. To that end, Mr. Dunham said, "While it is just fantastic to have such a state of the art, crisp, attractive 'new' Browning building, it is the 'old' Browning School that matters the most. Have a terrific new year in our new building, but keep it old school!"
Mr. Reynolds commented on the numerous events that occurred over the summer, both in the U.S. and around the world, from the tragedy in Missouri to the jubilation at the U.S. Open. “You are the future of this country and the leaders of tomorrow,” he told the boys. “Become engaged in the world around you, set the bar high, and thank you for your contributions to Browning. Go, Panthers!”
Headmaster Clement then asked all Form VI boys to come forward, state their name and tell how many years they have been at Browning. “This class created its own new tradition,” he said with pride. “Each of them received a citizenship award last year, something that has never happened in my years as Headmaster and perhaps never before that. How impressive!” He read the criteria for recognition with a citizenship award and asked the boys to tell how the award applies to them as individuals and what they “bring to the table.” Their responses covered the gamut; some examples follow: “I like to make others happy; I hope to make their lives and mine better at the same time.” “Compassion and passion.” “Passion and perseverance.” “Being a good listener and taking what others say into consideration.” “Solidarity.” “Integrity.” “A safe school environment in which we learn together.” Much to everyone’s amusement, one boy replied that he brings “a boatload of charm!”
The assembly concluded with a guest appearance by the Panther mascot. Sporting a tennis racquet and jersey, the panther pranced down the aisle to the chanting of the boys and teasing from Headmaster Clement who thanked him for taking time away from the U.S. Open. He noted that the tennis team and all the School’s sports teams enjoyed great seasons last year. Soccer players recently attended pre-season camp, and for the first time ever, were joined by the cross country team.
So as the school song says, “Welcome to Browning!” Here’s to the start of a great new year! - Melanie McMahon