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Gray Stone holds opening convocation

MISENHEIMER — On Aug. 30, Gray Stone Day School students and staff gathered in the gym for the school’s first fall convocation.

Typically, a fall convocation conducted at universities and colleges is a large gathering of people called together in a formal assembly to kick off the year with a sense of purpose and direction for the coming academic year. The keynote speaker for Gray Stone’s convocation was Brien Lewis, president of Catawba College. The Gray Stone convocation focused on character and integrity with the purpose of charging the students and staff with upholding the standards set forth by the school’s mission.

Senior Maria Kanawati provided the welcome. She reminded students that, “Honor and integrity are the two pillars that carry the upstanding Gray Stone student. Without both of these noble characteristics, we cannot hope to become all that we aspire to be in the future.”

Robert Stack, dean of students, talked about responsibility as “doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how it needs to be done. Integrity is doing it that way all the time, even when no one is looking.”

At Gray Stone Day School, all students are required to write and sign an honor code regarding all work they turn in, from a homework assignment to a final exam. It reads, “On my honor, I have not sought, given, received purposeful or inadvertent aid not permitted by the spirit of this assignment.”

During his keynote speech, Lewis spoke about honor.

“Honor is the integrity to do the right thing. An exciting future faces you as you begin a new year at Gray Stone and what you can bring to this community of learners,” he said.

Describing a scene from a Star Wars movie, Lewis shared that master Yoda told Luke Skywalker that the only thing inside a dark cave will be what you take with you.

“So what you take with you is your honor – your willingness to commit to the spirit and letter of the code and pledge. It is a pledge not just to one another – it is a pledge to ourselves,” he said.

Andrew Hodges, an English teacher at the school, asked the students to think about why they were there at this moment and this place in time. He encouraged students to stay present in the moment and take advantage of the educational opportunities here.

“Do your best work because by giving us your best, we can prepare you for life beyond these walls,” he said.

Dmitry Tereshenko, a senior, closed by reiterating what each part of the honor code means. He reminded students that, “As Gray Stone knights, we stand by our honor. In doing so, we stand by our code and everything it embodies.”

As students entered the gym, they were given a pledge card that read:

“As a member of the Gray Stone community, as a person of integrity and character, as an active participant in society as a whole, I pledge to respect others in my community, respect the educational process, uphold the principle of integrity in all things, and lead a life of character based on the principals established by the Gray Stone community.”

At the close of the ceremony, the students were given an opportunity to sign the pledge card and place it at the front.

“I’d like to thank Jeff Morris, head of school, and Robert Stack, dean of students for organizing the event. It was a very powerful reminder of how important it is that we fulfill our responsibilities and live with integrity and honor,” said Helen Nance, chief administrative officer.

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