As is tradition, the entire school community, including faculty, staff and Browning boys in Grade One through Form VI, assembled in Christ Church for Opening Assembly on September 5. This year a new tradition began with each Form VI boy and each first grader entering the church together in groups of two to take their seats.
Head of School John Botti greeted the community and extended a particular welcome to all new members. He spoke of watching the recent World Cup games, especially the contest between the Belgian and Japanese teams. In a last-minute turn of events, the Japanese team lost; despite their disappointment, they helped clean the locker room and even wrote a gracious thank-you note to their Russian hosts. Mr. Botti used this example to convey the importance of sportsmanship and facing failure with optimism for future success.
Upper School President Shazeb Dayani ’18 took to the podium and also spoke about the lessons that sports have taught him. As an accomplished athlete, he spoke about falling and getting right back on his feet. Shazeb used this analogy to encourage students of all ages to extend a hand and help one another this year.
Head of Lower School/Assistant Head of School Laurie Gruhn spoke of how impressed she was by the courage of the young Thai soccer players who were trapped in a cave of water this past summer; their situation was unique and one requiring the collective ideas of many to devise a rescue plan. Ms. Gruhn expressed her hope that all of us at Browning can learn from one another in this new school year as we, too, conquer uncharted territories. Like the team of rescuers who saved the young soccer players, together we can use our creativity, curiosity and intellect to solve any problem, she said.
Browning’s new Head of Middle School Danielle Passno noted that Browning has made her feel welcome from the day she arrived. She mentioned how nice it was to have a Form VI boy stop her in the hallway last spring to say how happy he was that she joined the School. Ms. Passno was also touched by the fact that the flowers she received from a friend were so well cared for by a member of Browning’s maintenance staff. These gestures assured her that she was in the right place. She then shared the words of Maya Angelou: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
New Head of Upper School Gene Campbell took a moment to appreciate the beauty of the assembly venue before remarking on how deeply honored he is to be part of The Browning School where “it is easy to be.” He drew upon the words of John Adams who said, “There are two types of education. One should teach us how to make a living, and the other, how to live.” With that in mind, Mr. Campbell advised the boys take advantage of every opportunity to learn together and trust one another as they pursue their education here.
Following tradition, Director of College Counseling Sanford Pelz ’71 then asked all Form VI boys to come forward, state their name, tell how many years they have been at Browning and describe what the School evokes in one word. Examples included the following: brotherhood, loyal, caring, camaraderie, close-knit, Grytte, adventure, friendship, genuine and ambitious.
The assembly concluded with a guest appearance by the Panther mascot, much to the delight of the youngest boys, followed by the singing of the school song. So as the lyrics go, “Welcome to Browning!” Here’s to the start of our 130th year!