We Are One
For the first time in a long time, we're back together again.
At the first school meeting of the 2021–2022 academic year, School President Javier Alonso Valcarcel '22 proudly declared “We are one,” as the theme for the year ahead. As an international student from the Dominican Republic who started at Pomfret last year, it was his first in-person school meeting. “Last year, I had trouble with the language, but every person that I knew and I got to know supported me, they believed in me, and they cared about me," he shared. "And that is what Pomfret is all about. That is the spirit of Pomfret, having each others’ backs and being there for everyone.”
That spirit of unity and support was felt throughout the three arrival days in which students and their families descended onto the Hilltop, eager to be together. The Pomfret community welcomed 137 new Griffins and embraced old familiar faces, some of whom they had not seen in person since the close of campus in 2020, as they spent last year at home as distance learners.
Student leaders welcomed new and international students with open and strong arms — literally — helping them unload their cars and move into their dorms. The leaders also gave tours of campus and insights on what being a Griffin is all about. After a day filled with orientation and social activities, students enjoyed dinner on the Quad and an ice cream social in the dining hall.
“It was an amazing thing to see the smiles and the joy and hear the laughter of kids reconnecting and new students making new friends,” recounted Head of School Tim Richards during a Parent Welcome meeting.
Returning students arrived the day before classes and reunited in dorm hallways, the day room, and on the Quad. The seniors were excited to return to a sense of normalcy and join the entire community for the annual start-of-school traditions. They posed for photos and took their long-awaited first steps atop the Sundial. Faculty in an inner circle and underclassmen in an outer circle embraced them in a big “group hug” as Director of Spiritual Life Bobby Fisher gave the benediction. After the ceremony, the School gathered indoors as a full community for the first time in almost eighteen months for a feast at the all-school sit-down dinner. Everyone then made their way into Clark Chapel to listen live and in-person to the inspirational message from Mr. Richard's Opening Chapel Talk.
Being together, in the same space, is something that 60 percent of the student body and about twenty faculty members had not experienced before the Sundial ceremony, sit-down dinner, and opening chapel. In order to come together as one, all students received two negative Covid tests, one prior to returning to campus and one once they arrived, and will be tested again in the coming weeks. They must also wear masks while inside academic buildings, the student union, chapel, and the dining hall. Students who did not have the opportunity to receive a vaccine before arriving on campus received their first shot at a vaccination clinic held on the final arrival day. They will receive their second shot at the end of September.
With the common theme of “We Are One” and the safety protocols in place, we are committed to having an amazing year.