1st convocation since 2019 heralds start of school year


Abby Keenley

The Rock Band prepares for their rendition of the Ted Lasso theme song.

By Cameron Aryanpour

Students, teachers and seniors’ parents attended the first convocation in nearly two years.

The Sept. 24 event began with upbeat music provided by the Jazz Band, led by Jaimeo Brown, a music teacher at Branson. Following the piano, guitar and drum solos, Senior Co-President Ethan Klosseck read an excerpt from philosopher Marcus Aurelius.

“If you keep the spirit inside you undamaged, embrace without fear, then you will lead a good life, and nobody will be able to stop you,” Klosseck read.

After Klosseck’s reading, Head of School Chris Mazzola gave her remarks.

“Today is about joy, and hope. 2020 was a lost year in memory. I remember working fiercely, but I cannot tell you what specifically happened month to month. I also acutely remember the loneliness at the campus from March to September. The campus came to be dominated by animals big and small,” Mazzola said. 

“My animal friends presented a vision of hope that made me realize that no matter what is happening in the world, life marches on. It gave me hope that one day we would all be sitting here as we are today.”

After a brief story about her newfound obsession with TV dramas, such as “Outer Banks” and “Succession,” Mazzola spoke about her new favorite show, “Ted Lasso,” which was based on a true story about a football coach who moved to England to coach a professional soccer team. 

“Ted goes to work on each individual with empathy, kindness and hope,” she said. “Even if we can’t show up as kind, empathetic people everyday, we should at least try. Ted was building a beloved community where every member matters, where each player develops a deep sense of community …. Kindness works.” 

Mazzola tied the story back to the Branson community. “Even if we can’t show up as kind, empathetic people everyday, we should at least try,” she said. “After all we’ve been through, we are in need of bridge builders. We need optimism.”

Senior Co-President Alexia Oltramare spoke next, reading an excerpt from her great-grandfather’s book, first in French, and then English.

“Accepting life in a positive way is seeing pain and joy as a positive message,” Oltramare read.

To top off the annual tradition, the Rock Band, led by Jeff Symonds, interim director of studies, gave a performance specially requested by Mazzola. The Rock Band played the Ted Lasso theme with a duet from seniors Anna Lardner, Amir Tariverdi and Katie Vostrejs. 

“I hope you leave here with a bounce in your step with a little hope,” Mazzola said to conclude the event. “Let’s have a joyful year!”