The 2014-15 school year officially began for upper school students on Aug. 22 during the annual matriculation ceremony. Each grade filed into the neatly arranged seats in the upper school quad. As is now standard practice, the newly minted high schoolers of the Class of 2018 were greeted by a rousing ovation from the students of grades 10, 11 and 12.
Head of School Chris Nikoloff delivered the opening remarks, largely inspired by a TED talk by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman. Nikoloff discussed the “experiencing self,” which lives in the moment, and the “remembering self,” which ponders the course of one’s life. “If you go on vacation, the self that is enjoying each moment is the experiencing self,” Nikoloff said. “The self who is planning the vacation beforehand and recalling it fondly while looking at pictures afterwards is the remembering self.”
Nikoloff explained that both selves are necessary to fully live our lives. “If we only had the experiencing self, we would live like a piece of music in which each note has no relation to the note that went before or the note that comes after,” he said. Later he added that living too much in accordance with the remembering self “can remove us from the life all around us.” Nikoloff ended his speech by communicating his hope that the students will be able to find the right balance between the two selves.
The women’s vocal group Cantilena then gave a stirring performance of “Dancing Singing” by Hans Leo Hassler, followed by remarks from Butch Keller, upper school division head. He challenged the students to discover the things that matter to them and gave them principles to follow to pursue their goals. “Have you put enough effort necessary into what really matters to you to be successful?” he asked the audience. “It’s really that simple. Even the person who won the lottery had to make the effort to buy the ticket.”
He also touched on commitment, saying, “There’s nothing worth chasing that’s not worth committing to. It means do what it takes at the cost of other things.”
Next, ASB president Sarah Bean, grade 12, welcomed the students to the new year and reflected that “time flies whether or not you’re having fun.” Bean reminisced about her previous three years, particularly the friends she grew to know and cherish. “When I look back on my freshman, sophomore and junior years, I remember the highs and lows of pretty much everything. I also remember the people I was with.” She encouraged the Class of 2018 to seek out new friends of their own and to seek the ASB’s help with any issues they may encounter. “There’s always something that can be better, and that’s what we’re here for,” she said.
ASB vice president Jessica Chang, grade 12, then led the students in the recitation of the matriculation oath, after which the freshmen signed the matriculation book as the Harker String Quartet, directed by Chris Florio, played a stunning version of the Led Zeppelin classic, “Stairway to Heaven.”
The ceremony closed with “Freshman 101,” in which the student council officers introduced to cornerstones of upper school life – including student clubs, time management and academic honesty – by way of hilarious parodies of the Kardashians, Kanye West and reality TV programs such as Master Chef.