Chatham Hall’s annual Convocation ceremony took place on Sept. 4, officially opening this unique school year. In observance of precautions against COVID-19, the ceremony took place on the lawn behind the Rectory and included social distancing, masks for each attendee, and strictly instrumental music.
Not all of the ceremony was new, however. In addition to delivering remarks
, Rector Rachel Connell also recognized students who had achieved Rector’s List and Dean’s List honors in the previous school year, as well as earned Scholastic Medals with the highest grade point average in each class.
The Phyllis Banks Hunt Scholarship was awarded to Catherine '22 for exemplary academic and personal leadership, and the Van Voorhis Leadership Scholarship was awarded to Camille '21 and Quiana '21. Whitney '22 was recognized as the recipient of the Virginia Henry Holt Award due to her “character and deportment, industry and accomplishment, resoluteness and kindness, purpose and exactitude, and grace and good humor.”
“The opening of school is always an inspiring time," said Rector Rachel Connell. "Convocation sets the tone for the school year, and this year it certainly set us up to find new ways to carry on our traditions and operations. I have been incredibly proud as I've watched our faculty, staff, and students on campus learn new processes and procedures to keep us all as safe as possible, and our students off campus continue to live their Chatham Hall experiences from afar. I can't wait for the day that all of us can be together again.”
This year, 150 students are enrolled at Chatham Hall though not all have been able to return to campus for the start of classes. Twenty-six will be learning remotely from their homes, taking advantage of a hybrid learning model involving synchronous and asynchronous work. Student homes are spread across 24 states and 9 countries including Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Russia, South Korea, Vietnam and the United States.
For those able to come to campus, Move In took place over a phased two-week schedule with Old Girls arriving on Aug. 23 and New Girls arriving on Aug. 30. Unlike in years past, Move In Days did not include setting up dorm rooms but rather dropping possessions in the gym to be sanitized and students staying in quarantine rooms while they awaited results of COVID-19 tests. To everyone’s delight, all students, faculty, and staff tested negative.
“Being a COVID-free campus is incredibly important to us,” noted Connell. “We are all thankful for the diligence every community member has shown in taking precautions against COVID-19, and no doubt will continue to show in the future.”
As additional precautions, the campus now features revised foot traffic flow patterns, hand sanitizer dispensers on every floor of every building, HALO machines available for use in each building, an increased cleaning schedule around campus, and the move of the Health Care Center to Hanes House with Gilmore House reserved to treat only COVID-19 patients should there be any.
“There’s no doubt this school year will be unlike any other,” said Connell. “But we’re Turtle Strong, I know we will thrive.”