What is a Friend? Lower School Contemplates "Friendship" in First Chapel of the Year

As Brooke DiGeronimo ’25, president of the Lower School Student Council Association, stood at the podium to speak, the noise level emitting from the group of nearly 500 students gathered in front of her drew to a murmur. She kicked off the Lower School’s first chapel of the year by leading the Lower School in prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance before welcoming Headmaster Dennis Manning to share some reflections with the group.

“Wonderful energy, my gosh!” Mr. Manning exclaimed, following a boisterous, “Good morning!” from the students. He proceeded to wish everyone a happy new year before imparting a little bit of knowledge on the young crowd. In this Year of Friendship, Mr. Manning invited the students to take three lessons to heart:

  1. Feel, share, and promote a sense of belonging. “Include one another in this Year of Friendship."

  2. Share the blessings of this school. “We are blessed to be a part of this place - I hope you share and are thankful for its blessings.”

  3. Be the best person you can be. “Be honorable (try to tell the truth, respect others belongings, do our own work) and be the best learners you can be - explore the world you inhabit, and be excited about learning.”

Mr. Manning asked all of the new students to raise their hands, igniting a round of applause from their peers and instructors. He then took a minute to introduce all of the new Lower School faculty members, creating more opportunities for the students to show their appreciation for the new teachers. Mr. Manning wished everyone a great year before introducing Patty McLaughlin, director of the Lower School.

After greeting the crowd, Mrs. McLaughlin took note of an activity that Ms. McKnight, the new 3rd grade girls teacher, conducted. Embracing this year’s theme of “Friendship,” her class participated in a silent conversation - a discussion conducted solely with markers and paper - to answer questions like, “What is a friend?” and “What is the difference between a friend and a best friend?” After taking a few responses from the crowd, Mrs. McLaughlin concluded the assembly by informing the students, “There is no right or wrong answer here - but it is something we can all think about!”