The school year officially kicked off on Aug. 24 as the classes of 2010, ’11, ’12 and ’13 gathered outside the Saratoga gym for the annual matriculation ceremony, welcoming students back from their summer activities and preparing them for the coming school year.
Chris Nikoloff, head of school, began the ceremony by welcoming the board of trustees, administration, faculty, staff and students to the ceremony. “I am sure you will be relieved to hear that I am continuing the tradition of confining my talk to the equivalent of two pages of single-spaced, size 12 font,” he joked.
Touching on a nationwide topic in the education community, Nikoloff took the opportunity to discuss academic integrity. While acknowledging that academic dishonesty exists, he stated his confidence in the overall integrity of the Harker student body. The Harker community, he added, will continue to discuss the issue to gain a better perspective on the nature of academic integrity. “The faculty and staff, deans and administration will seek an open dialogue with you to further our common understanding of academic integrity,” he said. “We invite you to speak with any faculty or staff member about any thoughts you have on this topic.”
Butch Keller, US division head, then spoke to the students, extending a “welcome” to the class of 2013 and a “welcome back” to the returning sophomores, juniors and seniors. He shared with the students three essays written by three 2009 graduates, each from different backgrounds and having varied experiences as students. Each essay advised the new students to make the most of their time and to experience as much as they can of what Harker has to offer.
Keller also addressed academic integrity, saying that all students have a role in making sure that the “soul” of Harker stays true to the school’s promise of offering a fulfilling and enriching experience. “If the faculty is the mind of this place, then it is their responsibility to lead with integrity, and if you are the soul then it is your responsibility to follow with equal integrity and pride in earning your accomplishments the right way,” he said.
In between the speeches was a performance by last year’s student vocal group Camerata, who sang “Ah, Could My Eyes Behold Thee” by Orlando di Lasso, directed by Susan Nace, US music teacher. Their harmonious performance was met with warm applause.
Following Keller’s speech, ASB president Andy Fang, Gr. 12, introduced the 2009-10 class officers before leading all students in the recitation of the matriculation oath. The freshmen then signed the matriculation book.
More entertainment was on deck, as the student officers then put on their “Freshman 101” show, an amusing skit that introduced the class of 2013 to the various policies of the school. The story followed the familiar cast of “The Wizard of Oz” re-imagined as high school students, as they struggled with meeting the school dress code, picking a club to join and (gasp!) finding a date for the homecoming dance.
There was even a special guest appearance by Winny Huang ’09, last year’s ASB president, who played the part of a performing arts teacher auditioning the Tin Man for a role in a school production.
After the play, Nikoloff returned to the stage and wished the students well in the coming year, as they all departed to meet with their advisors and begin the year in earnest.