Convocation 2022–2023: Connection and Belonging

On August 30, 2022, The Winsor School held a classic Convocation that felt familiar, welcoming, and fun. 

For the first day of school, costumed seniors lined the hallways handing out high fives and forming Winsor’s “scream tunnel” as students entered 103 Pilgrim Road. Seniors revealed their arcade-themed homeroom by dressing as Pac-Man, Mario Bros., and Oregon Trail. The symbolism of an arcade, where there is something always exciting to do, sums up the senior class in one word: fun. 

To open, Head of School Sarah Pelmas asked the audience to dial up the noise “louder” as seniors flooded the theater to the high energy beat of “Starships” by Nicki Minaj. Ms. Pelmas introduced new faculty and staff members who sat on stage with their colleagues. She then walked through the summer construction projects that created new spaces such as a robotics lab and new choral room, and gave an overview of the reimagination of existing spaces that moved locations, such as the bookstore. To rousing applause, Ms. Pelmas also announced that, thanks to the Planet Protectors, the solar panels are now turned on and in use, so Winsor is officially making its own energy!

The first speaker at Convocation was Allison Kaneb Pellegrino ’89, P’21, ’22, president of the Winsor Corporation, who reminded students that during the opening of the school year, they “stand on the threshold of an exciting adventure.” Her remarks bolstered the theme of belonging, a fitting descriptor considering the challenges and disconnection faced by many during the past few years. 

“Working behind the scenes is our Winsor Board of Trustees, a group of people devoted to ensuring that Winsor is and continues to be a diverse, vibrant, supportive learning community—one that fosters belonging,” said Ms. Pellegrino. “And long after you graduate from this special school, you will be part of an expansive network of alumnae who will catch you wherever you land. This is the place where you can take risks, ask hard questions, and be your true, authentic self. Here at Winsor, you will always belong—now and well into the future,” she added.

President of COLLECT Chloe Chao ’23 echoed the theme of belonging and imparted some advice to help everyone feel supported and part of Winsor. “If you see someone new or lost in the hallways, please help them out.” She also explained that COLLECT represents the student voice and is a resource to help amplify student voices. “If we can empower each other, this year will be extraordinary.”

Senior Class President Olivia Sarkis ’23 elaborated on the thinking behind the arcade theme, “Arcades are timeless…even 40 years after being popularized.” She went on to say that it is a hope to make sure that everyone feels connected in this arcade. Of the class of 2023, "we scored personal bests and hit ‘game over’ more times than we can count.”

Lower School Council Heads Anaisha Mallik ’27 and Bonnie Shao ’27 also spoke to the assembled group and imparted advice to students “don’t put yourself in a box, take advantage of many opportunities and try something new.”

In her Convocation address, Ms. Pelmas reminded us that this school year marks Winsor’s 136th birthday. She used history as a lens to view where we are today and walked through the history of the school’s founding. “In 1886,” she said, “Miss Winsor started a school in the Back Bay for girls who would grow up to be intellectual powerhouses and significant contributors to the world.” Ms. Pelmas shared that, today, in Longwood, Winsor is still all of those things, and more. “We don’t all come from the same class or social circles...We are more diverse, more varied, we embrace people from many more backgrounds, and we graduate students who will follow a much greater variety of life paths. We are vibrant and complex.” 

She went on to note, “And because of that diversity, we are more likely to disagree, see things from different perspectives, prioritize different things. And that’s great. It is perhaps the most important goal a school can have…It’s not always easy to disagree, but it is very important to do so.”

Ms. Pelmas further elaborated on the theme of belonging through the lens of home: “I think of belonging and home as being related to each other…We spend a lot of our time trying to make places in the world into 'home' for ourselves. This concept of 'home' we hold in our hearts—it is, among other things, THE place where we belong, completely, without question.”

Completing the tradition-filled morning, SASS Heads Ally Kennedy ’23, Caroline Friendly ’23, Coco FitzMaurice ’23, and Sora Karanja ’23 led the school cheers; and Lower School Council heads Anaisha Mallik ’27 and Bonnie Shao ’27 rang Miss Winsor's bell to signify the official start to the school year.