GPS celebrates during opening ceremony for 2022-23 | Panda Anku

GPS’s 117th school year began Wednesday with a return to the Frierson Theater to celebrate the start of a new year.

Principal Megan D. Cover welcomed the seventh through eleventh graders and urged everyone to stand and cheer while the Grand Old Seniors danced into the theater to the song “Live While We’re Young.” After the 88 students of the Class of 2023, our faculty and staff, in order of seniority, entered Frierson to sing “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”

Then everyone stood and cheered enthusiastically for the Class of 2029, the sixth graders who entered as “On Top of the World” played over the speakers.

Assistant principal and middle school principal Lynne Macziewski offered a prayer of thanksgiving earlier in the year, seeking “the courage to find peace, to accept challenges, and to have faith in ourselves and in everything we do,” and to have leadership of the Path. “Remind us that our journey is more important than our destination and that the people around us and the relationships we form with others are of the utmost importance,” she prayed.

Ms Cover returned to the podium to officially welcome back the school community and share her goals for the school year: “This year our focus will be on the joy of learning and discovery; community, connection and engagement; and proud of our school.”

Then she shared an artwork she owns and a photo of the evening sky over the Founders House with a lit cloud top. “Girls, a GPS education is a gift that’s yours forever,” Cover said. “At our school you can explore, dream, fail and recover, achieve, and as you do so, we are here to support, care for and love you as you pursue your passions, interests and your… Discover “highlight”. I look forward to the best year yet with each and every one of you.”

Next was Clay Watson, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, who, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, welcomed the students and urged them “to make it count. Make your experience, education, relationships, athletic endeavors, artistic creations, your freshman year, your senior year, your sophomore year count.”

Mr Watson continued: “Girls, someone has or is working really hard for you to get this great opportunity to broaden your horizons and prepare you for the next chapter. Make it count for her.”

He then congratulated the seniors and urged them to set an example for the other classes to follow and urged faculty to use their time to motivate their students to reach their full potential. Concluding, Mr Watson said: “Have a great year, enjoy your sisterhood, beat Baylor and make it count.”

Next, Ms. Cover introduced the new faculty and staff and acknowledged the new students joining GPS this school year, including two international students from Germany and Croatia.

Next up was Caitlin Riddle, Associate Director of Communications and Marketing, who introduced a redesigned secondary “casual brand” that better aligns with brands the girls are familiar with. This clean sign includes a torch graphic that pays homage to the torch in the crest and features a fresh color palette that will appeal to girls.

theme of the year
Like their predecessors, the new high school leaders were tasked with choosing a theme for the school year. When choosing a topic, seniors choose a word or phrase that not only represents their class but also encompasses the entire student body.

The four elected Senior Class Leaders – Hannah Grace Kornberg, Caroline Clark, Hayden Wise and Anabel Wilson – shared with their fellow students the theme of the year: Joy in the Journey. They each spoke about the challenges they faced during their time in high school and how they learned to look for ways to enjoy their struggles together while finding things that bring joy. Caitlin Riddle designed the graphic used on the school’s light pole banners and the stickers given to each student and faculty member.

grant award
High school principal Beth Creswell Wilson ’96 then announced the winners of the two school scholarships. Anisha Phade ’23 was awarded the Grace McCallie Scholarship, awarded to the aspiring senior who maintained the highest GPA throughout her senior years. The Duffy Jarnagin Scholarship is awarded annually to the aspiring junior with the highest GPA at the end of her sophomore year who also demonstrates the qualities of the ideal GPS student as envisioned by the co-founders. The recipient should be “a highly respected member of her class, with integrity beyond reproach, and loyal to the school.” Two coeds shared the honor this year: Lucie DeGaetano ’24 and Ella Harris ’24.

Installation of the class officer
Before introducing the honor council, student council and community partnerships, Ms. Wilson gave the girls a message on leadership. She said: “Leadership, just like other things like friendship and relationship, does not come from an awarded title, but from our words and actions. A leader interacts with those around them in ways that positively impact them, open up opportunities for them, and build a stronger community in which to thrive.” She shared that great leaders are good communicators and even better listeners with good ideas who know when and how to reinforce the ideas of others. “Leaders are confident, responsible, honest and empathetic. We often see leaders in the spotlight, but they spend far more time working tirelessly behind the scenes.” She shared other qualities of good leaders: approachable, mindful of actions and words, leading by example, seeking input from others, and actively listening .

“The girls we are introducing today were selected by their peers for their leadership qualities during their time at GPS,” said Ms. Wilson. “These girls are dedicated to the GPS mission and are willing to work hard in the best interests of their classmates.”

Finally, the appointment of the class officers took place. Middle School Dean Katie Outlaw spoke to the students about leadership and their responsibility to their classmates as their elected representatives.

Honorary Council | Sworn in by Katie Outlaw, Middle School Dean and Honorary Council Sponsor
Hannah Grace Kornberg, President
Seniors | Sophie McGee and Meghan Boehm
Juniors | Caroline Breazeale and Ella Harris
Sophomores | Mabry Cook and Kendall Ownby
Freshmen | Adreanna Calloway and Lauren Gardner
eighth graders | Roee Chapin and Lily Ownby

Student Council | Sworn in by Erin Sizemore, Dean of Studies High School
Caroline Clark, President
Seniors | Megan Jones, Abigail Mann, Keller Williamson and Meghan Wilson
Juniors | Caroline Barnes, Scout Chapin, Emmaline Hill and Jenna Naik
Sophomores | Khadeeja Agha, Ellison Ball and Gwyneth Parks
Freshmen | Mia Brunett, Hadley Golden and Chapman Mathis

Partnerships in the Community | Sworn by Tiffany Simms ’03, PIC Advisor
Hayden Wise, President
Seniors | Rowan Espy, Morgan Summerlin and Eveyln Lytle
Juniors | Hoda Alameddine, Abigail Carpenter and Gabbi Fivas
Sophomores | Caroline Grant and Ella Beth Wiedmer
Freshmen | Lillian Bernard and Emma Pratt

Special thanks to Mr. Will Glass, Director of Library, Media and Makerspace, for woodburning designs on each of the tokens the students received: a branch for Honor Council, a bridge for StuCo, and a compass for PIC.

Freshmen walk across the lawn
At the end of the inaugural assembly, the students were released to take their seats along the lawn and in the high school to solemnly watch the Class of 2026 walk down the sidewalk from middle to high school while Ms. Macziewski bade them a fond farewell, while Ms Wilson greeted them at the entrance to the Upper School. Led by Freshman Class Dean Mrs. Lauren Lawrence Swanson ’09, the students entered the Upper School from a senior-lined sidewalk to be greeted into the building by their second and younger sisters.

After walking the lawn, the students enjoyed free time to gather, socialize and catch up. Then it was off to a condensed schedule while our sixth graders spent the day getting used to their new school and getting around, including new photos for their ID cards and an afternoon scavenger hunt.

Watch the video of the opening meeting here and the walk across the lawn here.

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