On September 14, 2023, more than 2,000 Country Day students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Bruton Smith Athletic Center for the 12th annual All-School Convocation. This special gathering is the one and only occasion in which the entire JK–12 academic community comes together to celebrate the promise of a new school year.
As is tradition, Associate Director of Admissions Robin Riggins, our longest-tenured employee, and Third-Grade Assistant teacher Sumiti Green, one of our newest teachers, kicked off the ceremony, followed by our senior class walking hand in hand with nearly 185 junior kindergarten and kindergarten students. Pairing the youngest with the oldest recognizes our strong history and welcoming community, no matter where you are in your journey at Country Day. After the Pledge of Allegiance, our Middle and Upper School faculty choirs, along with the fourth and eighth-grade choirs sang the school Alma Mater together.
Confident and eloquent student speakers from each division shared their perspectives on aspects of Country Day’s core values. Fourth-grader Julian Taylor reminded us about the importance of kindness and acceptance of others. “Kindness doesn’t have to be a big thing,” Julian said. “Small acts can mean a lot and can make you feel good. I've learned that kindness and appreciating others are very important. They make our school a better place, and I think they can make the whole world better too. It's not always easy, but we can all try to be a little more generous and kinder every day.”
Maya Bharti, Middle School Student Council President, shared what the Country Day community means to her. She also talked about kindness and believes “kindness is a generous action that makes us better human beings. It’s being friendly, compassionate, thoughtful, and tolerant,” she said. “Over the course of my time here, I have witnessed countless acts of kindness within our community. Whether it’s holding the door open for someone else, giving someone a compliment, or letting someone new sit with you at lunch, Country Day is always kind, and that is one of my favorite parts of being a student here.”
Alston Murphy, Upper School Student Body President reflected on his 13 years at Country Day and how he remembers his Lower and Middle School teachers instilling the importance of kindness and knowledge of how to treat others. He shared what it was like to have his older brother on campus when he got to Upper School and how he and his friends' kindness helped him to grow as a student and learn how to get involved and find balance.
This year’s featured guest speaker was Ann Tabor, parent of three Country Day “lifers” and alums. She was part of the Country Day community for 18 years while her children were here, but “our Country Day memories and moments are valuable gifts that keep on giving long after graduation,” she said. Ann has been a difference-maker in the Charlotte community and has an impressive career and a long list of accomplishments. She spoke openly about how she battled depression and anxiety, which led her to pursue a new career helping and encouraging others who are facing challenges. “Optimism, belonging, and thankfulness are contagious,” she said. “Keep investing in yourself and each other and increasing hope, relationships, and gratitude in this world.”
The ceremony ended with Senior Class President Alex Connors presenting an oak tree sapling to junior kindergarten and kindergarten representatives Pierce Kwon and Baysie Hogan from the classes of 2036 and 2037. The sapling serves as a symbol of growth as our community nourishes and protects our students as they move through Country Day. “The tree will grow as you will, but I believe that a tree is strongest when given the care, nurturing, help, and guidance that you will receive as a student at Country Day,” Alex said.
Katie McKaughn Webster ’11 donated this year’s sapling to Country Day after remembering the All-School Convocation tradition. It will be planted on Cannon Campus.