2020 Vision: Hamlin Begins A New School Year

Wanda M. Holland Greene (Head of The Hamlin School), and Maddie G.(Class President), ushered in our 156th school year with inspiring words. Ms. Holland Greene also led the entire room in singing the song Brave (by Sara Bareilles). The opening assembly was concluded by music teachers Will Skaff and Kate Roseman leading everyone in singing the song Make New Friends, a Hamlin tradition.  

You can read Maddie’s outstanding speech here:

We Have 2020 Vision:

Good morning everyone. Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year. I’m so honored to be speaking here today. 

Before we begin with the Pledge of Allegiance, I’d like to recognize that our country is still striving to achieve “Liberty and Justice for all.”  The word “Indivisible” doesn’t accurately describe a place where there is still discrimination based on race, sexuality, gender, religion, and more. As we recite the Pledge of Allegiance, let’s think about what we can do to support those who seek liberty and justice for all as we strive for indivisibility for the United States.  If you feel comfortable, please stand and place your right hand over your heart for the Pledge of Allegiance. 

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” 

I’m so excited to see so many familiar faces as I start my 9th year here at Hamlin. I am equally excited to see the new faces in the room today. 

Let’s start by welcoming the new administrators, teachers, and staff by kindly asking you all to step forward and wave—we are thrilled to welcome you to the Hamlin community.  Next, I would like to welcome the students new to Hamlin. If this is your first year at Hamlin and you are anywhere from second grade to seventh grade, please stand up — Let’s give these new Hamlin girls a warm welcome! We are so happy to welcome you to our growing Hamlin family. 

Before we welcome the kindergarteners, I want to make sure they get a proper introduction to Hamlin, because they are strong and brave young girls. When the kindergarteners stand up, I want everyone to give them a big round of applause. Instead of cooing or aww-ing at their appearance, let’s give them a hand, because these Hamlin girls are mighty and powerful. So, with that, will the Kindergarten– the Class of 2028– please stand up, turn around, and wave to everyone in the audience so we can properly welcome you all on the first day of school!

      Thank you kindergarteners! You can turn around and sit down now. 

I have a special message for you kindergarten girls. When I started my journey at Hamlin as a kindergartener like you, I was quiet, nervous, and I missed my mom and dad, and the idea of standing up here before all of you seemed impossible. Since then, Hamlin has taught me how to be brave and brought out the best in me. 

In fact, I have gone from being shy, to a performer. Hamlin helped me find my passion in musical theatre and have the courage to pursue it. I love to act, sing, and dance, and I have played many different roles in shows in the past couple years with my theater company. From Pig #2 in Shrek, to the Wolf in Into the Woods, and even the bald Uncle Fester in Addams Family, each role has been a new and exciting challenge. Once, when I auditioned for Into the Woods, I was convinced I would be cast as Little Red Riding Hood. I had worked so hard for it, and she was my favorite character. When I heard that I would be playing the Wolf instead, I was confused and upset. What I didn’t know then is that getting the character I wanted wasn’t what mattered. What I came to realize is that what I really loved about theater was getting to work with everyone in the cast, especially my close friend who was cast as Little Red Riding Hood.  Performing our show as a family and being proud of it was more important, and more fun, than worrying about wanting one character over the other. Our show was successful because we all supported each other and worked together. My experience with this show reminded me of my journey at Hamlin, because here we can accomplish anything when we are kind and supportive to one another. 

For all of the new Hamlin girls here today, it may be frightening seeing so many unfamiliar faces, but the amazing young women surrounding you are your sisters. They will be beside you to support you every step of the way at Hamlin, and outside of Hamlin. 

It’s amazing for me to think back to eight years ago, when I was sitting in the same seat as the kindergarteners. So much has changed since then. It was only Ms. Holland-Greene’s 4th year at Hamlin. Barack Obama was the President of the United States, Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, and the United States won the Women’s World Cup (that doesn’t seem to change!). It also just so happened to be the year that Gangnam style blew up the internet, Adele songs were all over the radio, and the newest Disney movie of the time, “Brave,” showed young girls that not every princess needs a prince. 

But while a lot has changed, what has been consistent here at Hamlin in these eight years, and many years before that, is our dedication to our mission and creed. Throughout our years at Hamlin, we are given so many opportunities to learn how to represent our mission statement. If you know it, please say it with me: “The Hamlin School educates girls to meet the challenges of their time, and inspires them to become extraordinary thinkers and innovators, courageous leaders, and women of integrity.”  We are taught everyday to become the person the mission statement challenges us to be so that when it is our time to leave Hamlin, we are ready to face the world as extraordinary and successful women. The creed gives us guidance on how to be the best version of ourselves. It tells us to be courageous, compassionate, honest, respectful, and responsible. 

Our creed emphasizes the importance of being kind and compassionate to others, and treating others the way they want to be treated. Hamlin girls are already known for being intelligent and successful, but we can always do more. My challenge to myself and all of us for this year and beyond is for us to also be known for our values. That means being inclusive and respectful to everyone. This new year will bring new opportunities to put aside any differences we’ve had with other people and make new friends, but keep the old. Similar to a cast of a show or a sports team, all of us need to support each other so we can all succeed. 

One thing I’ve always admired is that the mission statement and creed both include the concept of courage. At Hamlin we can visualize new ideas for the future of this school, and we have the courage to make our ideas a reality. This brings me to the theme of this year…which I find incredibly courageous. 

The theme of the 2019-2020 school year is (drumroll please) We Have 20/20 Vision. This theme has so much meaning packed into every word, so I will break it down.  

The first word is: We. This means everyone. It means all of us coming together as a Hamlin community with our own unique ideas and visions. Together, we make a strong unit. We have the power to accomplish anything we put our minds to and move forward with purpose. 

The next part of the theme is 20/20. This means clarity and focus on the year ahead with ideas and goals that are realistic and achievable. 2020 also, of course, refers to the year 2020. This marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which allowed many, but not all, women to go to the polls for the 1920 presidential election. In addition to this, June of 2020 celebrates the culmination of the plan for Hamlin’s future. Hamlin’s campus renovation represents what we can achieve when we have a clear and courageous long-term vision. 

On a more personal note, the year 2020 is significant to me and my classmates because it is the final year of our Hamlin journey. Can the amazing class of 2020 please stand up? As the new leaders of this school, this is our year to bring great ideas to this school and make a positive impact. I am so proud of how far we have all come together, and I know that this year is going to be the best one yet. (Thanks you, you can sit down now.)

The last word of our theme is Vision. Although I might not have 20/20 optical vision, according to the American Optometric Association, “20/20 vision only indicates the sharpness or clarity of vision at a distance.” 

From a distance we can see outrageous goals, and have the courage to achieve them. As Hamlin girls, the mental pictures we paint are colorful and wise. We have big and bold ideas, hopes, and dreams, and we have the imagination and courage to pursue them. 

Hamlin is so special because we are always looking ahead with 2020 vision, imagining what can be done for the future of this school, and for the future of our world. Small seeds of ideas become reality here—in the past few years, for example, pants were reintroduced to the middle school uniform to ensure that everyone is comfortable in how they dress at school. I want to celebrate the girls who wore pants to the first day of school today. If you are wearing the uniform pants, can you please stand up and show them off? (Thank you, you can sit back down.)

We also introduced a 1:1 iPad program starting in second grade. And Hamlin welcomed a new food program (Acre Gourmet) so everyone is well and healthy. 

If you are a new member of the Hamlin family, you can start thinking about what bold ideas you have for Hamlin’s future. For the girls whose time at Hamlin is coming to a close in my grade, now is the time to look back at what we’ve accomplished, and how we can bring our knowledge and 2020 vision to wherever our future takes us. This type of vision might also contribute to our leadership this year, and how we will you help others and leave a positive mark. 

The theme of this year is so important because it is all about clarity and focus. It is symbolic for courage, change, and thinking about the amazing year ahead of us. With the theme, We Have 20/20 Vision, in mind, as well as the mission and creed, I am so excited to see what amazing 20/20 visions you all bring to this school year, and many more years to come.

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