Students and teachers in Friends Schools Fiddle Club performed as community members of all ages filled the Old Gym for the annual Thanksgiving Convocation.
Students and teachers in Friends School’s Fiddle Club performed as community members of all ages filled the Old Gym for the annual Thanksgiving Convocation.
Courtesy of Laura Black

All-School Thanksgiving Convocation a Cherished Tradition

From preschoolers to adults, the whole Friends School community gathered in the Old Gym to celebrate with music and dance, and to contemplate gratitude.

It was a cold, rainy Tuesday right before the Friends School community went on Thanksgiving break. Around 1:45, the whole school gathered in the Old Gym for our annual Convocation. 

It all started with Friends Fiddle Club playing music as everyone gathered. People were either leaned against the walls or cramped together on the bleachers facing the gym floor. 

Student leaders kicked things off, with 8th graders and Middle School Student Leadership Council heads Cassidy Vaught and Rox Lichtenstein, and seniors and Upper School Senate co-presidents Noah Ripke, Harrison Fribush, Macy Goldberg, introducing themselves. 

Next, the Upper School Chamber Choir sang “93 Million Miles.” 

Three rows of Upper School students stood on benches facing the crowd. 

“That was beautiful,” Harrison said afterward. 

Then, Head of School Christian Donovan (who has asked students to call him by his first name) gave a speech.  

Head of School Christian Donovan spoke at the Thanksgiving Convocation, flanked by Middle and Upper School student leaders. He talked about his gratitude to both his birth- and adoptive moms. (Courtesy of Laura Black)

“I can say for sure that Convocation is one of my favorite traditions!” Christian said. He said gathering the entire school community – from preschoolers to adults – a few times a year is an opportunity he cherishes. 

Christian also spoke to the crowd about his two moms: his birth mother and his adoptive mother.

“One who gave birth to me at age 15 and had the courage to put me up for adoption when she knew she was in no condition to support me,” he said. “The second who adopted me – and is actually standing over there – gave me unconditional love and confidence…”

Before he could even finish his sentence, people clapped and cheered. 

“As we head into break, I want us all to take a moment to reflect on our gratitude,” Christian said near the end of his speech. 

Afterward, 4th and 5th graders danced away in their interpretation of The Jazzy Nutcracker.

The dancers wore bright orange and pink tutus, colorful leotards, ballet shoes, and tights. Some wore bright red lipstick and masks. They were different people wearing similar things, all dancing together. 

After their wonderful performance, the Quaker Student Union and the 5th Grade Quakerism Committee spoke. 

To end Convocation, the whole school joined in singing “Simple Gifts,” another Friends School tradition. The gym was filled with different voices of all different ages – yet it all sounded in unison and pretty. 

“This time together as a Friends School of Baltimore community has been truly special,” Harrison said to finish it off. 

He asked for everyone to applaud those who participated in Convocation. Clapping went on for quite a while.

I was actually very nervous because it’s the whole school. And I didn’t wanna mess up. And in fact, I almost slipped!

— Kynleigh Nelson, '31

Students were asked to leave in a certain order. But in their excitement, hardly anyone followed the rules. Fiddle Club played again while everyone was leaving.

While grades were clearing out the gym, the 4th and 5th-grade dancers were bunched up in a group. Two 5th graders and performers quickly agreed to be interviewed by the Quill.

“During Convocation, I thought it was actually, I was actually very nervous because it’s the whole school. And I didn’t wanna mess up. And in fact, I almost slipped on this rusty gym floor,” said dancer Kynleigh Nelson.

Dancer Delaney Graham said she felt good after performing.

“Yeah, for sure!” she said.

Then, the dancers headed back out of the gym into the cold, rainy weather.

But despite the elements, it was a great way to end the school week before Thanksgiving break!

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