With Lake Cochichewick shimmering in the sun behind him, birds chirping above and 351 students quietly waiting in front of him, Head of School John Packard began fall's first Chapel on September 7 in a way as special as the new year itself: outdoors and all together again.
We start the new year "physically together as a whole school for the first time since early March 2020 — 18 months ago," he said, before sharing how he appreciates "the opportunities we will have [this year] to build, realize and feel community."
Following a busy weekend of students moving on campus and a welcome barbeque, Chapel kicked off a week of orientation, celebration and classes that students say have them fired up for the year ahead.
"I'm so excited about things going back to normal," said Hongru Chen '22. "It's been a really long time." Chen said he is looking forward to participating in the fall play and trying something new, too. "I'm going to try a new activity or sport since it's my last year," he pledged. "But for now I'm mostly just excited to spend time with my friends."
Darnell Pierre '24, for his part, is thankful for the chance to make new friendships. "It's my first year here and I'm looking forward to playing football and meeting new friends, teachers and teammates."
Orientation on September 8 (shown above) helped students get acquainted with campus life, as well as their classmates. The bulk of the day was devoted to team-building activities for each grade to do together as a class on the campus athletics fields. (The class of 2022, meanwhile, participated in a "Jumpstart Program" run by the college counseling office, shown below, that provided sessions on stress management, connecting with colleges, and essay and application advice).
See an album of photos from students' team-building activities.
Relying on each other, third-, fourth- and fifth-form students collaborated to complete their team-building challenges — from group jump roping and timed hula-hoop jumps to activities using parachutes, rings and bean bags — in record time.
The bonding spirit continued during afternoon activities and sports, which will run each day going forward. Brooks is fielding teams in cross country, field hockey, football, soccer and volleyball this fall, as well as offering boating opportunities, community service, drama, outdoor exploration and yoga.
Christian Bejar '22 had soccer on the brain when asked about his hopes for the fall. "I'm excited about being on the soccer team again, for the whole season, and playing different teams — hopefully, to win the ISL, too!" he said.
His goals for the classroom are equally high. "I'm in two sciences this year and two maths," said the student, who is already set to attend Boston College next year. "I'm taking engineering because I haven't tried it before and I want to see if I'm really interested in it and then maybe I could major in it at college."
Fellow class of 2022 student and school prefect Amy Del Cid is also thinking ahead. "I'm excited to take AP Spanish Literature this year because Spanish is my first language — I speak it at home so it's a part of home that keeps me grounded when I'm here at Brooks — and it's a college-level course so it'll prepare me if I want to take Spanish in college," she said.
For the time being, though, Del Cid is focused on conquering a fear. "I think I'll give a senior speech," she shared. "Public speaking always makes me really nervous but I think if I practice at it I'll only get better. I'm a Chapel prefect this year so that's kind of the reasoning behind that. I want to help out in Chapel but I also know it's going to help me with public speaking."
Fittingly, these goals of making new friends, trying new things and conquering fears all dovetail into the theme of Brooks' first, outdoor Chapel that began that first week of school. "I'm looking forward to an exciting year, a year of new and unexpected wonders," school minister James Chapman told the community following John Packard's remarks.
Sharing a quote from Isaiah about making way through the wilderness, Chapman added: "I think we could say that we've had a year and a half in the wilderness, and we may not be completely out of it yet, but I have the feeling today that the great spirit of love, the love that some of us refer to as God, is making a new way for us and that we are at the start of a new time; a time of change for the better."
OTHER RECENT STORIES
Alumni Help in College Selection Process
College counseling program offering video chats with alums helped students make decisions about where to continue their education after Brooks.
Creating a New Admission Building
Brooks bids farewell to three beloved buildings and looks forward to a fresh facility that will provide opportunities for admission and everyone on campus.
McVeigh to Move On and Head Holderness School
After 18 years at Brooks, the teacher and coach will begin a new chapter next July in New Hampshire.