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First Day

Norfolk Academy began its Year of Integrity on Wednesday, August 23, as new Bulldogs in the Class of 2035 participated in a popular annual tradition and older students burst onto campus to connect again with friends and teachers.

Buses began rolling in before 8 a.m., and it was clear right away that students were eager for this new year to get underway. Handshakes, hugs, and high-fives abounded on a picture perfect morning: About 80 degrees and hardly a cloud in the sky.

Each year opens with first graders patting the Bulldog for the first time, and shaking hands with the Lower School Director and Head of School before moving on to meet their teachers and classmates and beginning a new year of learning. The Class of 2035 is new Head of School Travis Larrabee's first first-grade class, and he talked openly with both parents and their children about that experience.

The father of three children, including one now in Norfolk Academy's Middle School and another who is in the Class of 2024, Mr. Larrabee advised the parents to soak in this moment and all the joys of this first year at NA. He thanked everyone for the warm welcome his family has received since he began in July, and assured the parents that their children are in good hands with the Academy's dedicated teachers. 

“Take this all in. This is going to be an incredible journey," he said.

Mr. Larrabee admitted to students that he was nervous on his first day of school in a new place, helping relax edginess they might've been feeling. 

“Your teachers are going to welcome you with open arms, introduce you to all your new friends, and you're going to love it," he said. "You're in for a great year and a great experience."

When Mr. Larrabee spoke to older students in their opening Chapels, he focused on wellness. He noted that he will expound on integrity and its meaning both at S. Barron Segar Day on Thursday and in future Chapels. But he broadly advised students in both divisions to center themselves. Don't look too far into the future or relive the past. Stay in the moment and be present to help one another.

“The best journeys begin with a single step," he said. “That's what today is."

New Head of School Travis Larrabee and Lower School Director Michelle Alexander shook hands with first graders.

New Head of School Travis Larrabee and Lower School Director Michelle Alexander shook hands with first graders as the students patted the Bulldog on the first day of classes, August 23, 2023. 

Handshakes, hugs, high-fives, and smiles abounded on the first day of classes.

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