Convocation Begins CA’s 2021–22 School Year with a Focus on Openness, Optimism, and Curiosity

Board of Trustees President Fay Lampert Shutzer ’65 speaks at Convocation to open Concord Academy’s 2021–22 school year.

On August 31, 2021, Concord Academy students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Elizabeth B. Hall Chapel to begin the 2021–22 academic year. What a welcome return it was to see the entire campus community sitting together in CA’s “house of stories,” where chapel talks will take place throughout the year, and to hear the cello prelude played—live and in person—by Jimmy Cai ’22.

Interim Head of School Sarah Yeh P’24 welcomed everyone returning to CA as well as 107 new students and 18 new faculty and staff members. “We are so happy that you are part of this school community,” she said, “and grateful for all you will share with all of us.”

In her remarks, Board of Trustees President Fay Lampert Shutzer ’65 recalled the excitement of beginning a new academic year, and also the experience of anxiety and uncertainty when joining a school community. “This is a community where everyone is here for you,” she said. “As you look around, you will find people who are ready to guide you, help you, and are eager to get to know you.”

Student Head of School Hannah Wixom ’22 spoke about the ways in which CA students have stayed connected throughout the pandemic and about CA’s traditions and the values of love of learning, common trust, collaboration, and kindness that animate the school. “We shouldn’t be afraid to look beyond campus and participate in challenging conversations with compassion and empathy,” she said. “Starting off our centennial year, I hope you take time to engage with the incredible people that surround you.”

Amy Kumpel gives this year’s Convocation address.

The 2021–22 convocation speaker, Science Department Head Amy Kumpel, shared a personal reflection on openness, optimism, and curiosity. A devotee of Star Trek, she took inspiration from the franchise’s record of championing inclusivity and open-mindedness to structure her talk around words of wisdom spoken by many of the characters. Recounting her early interest in outer space and a career at NASA, Kumpel described her own pivot to teaching, her deep joy in the possibilities of discovery, and the importance of empathy in addressing problems and developing solutions. “I believe the only way to intentionally connect with others is through deep, meaningful conversations that come from being authentically curious about another person,” she said. 

“The future is left for you to write. My hope for each of you this year is that you will embrace openness, optimism, and the spirit of curiosity.”

— Amy Kumpel

After Convocation concluded, students connected briefly with their advisors before heading off to their first day of classes. The tone was set for a connected, positive, community-focused year.

Interim Head of School Sarah Yeh P’24.
Students and advisors in Academy Garden.
Student Head of School Hannah Wixom ’22.

Convocation Remarks

Read the speakers’ remarks in full:

Convocation speaker Amy Kumpel, Science Department Head

Fay Lampert Shutzer ’65, President of the Board of Trustees

Hannah Wixom ’22, Student Head of School

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