Each August, Rowland Hall holds a Convocation ceremony, a traditional gathering that brings our school community together to connect, learn, and celebrate the start of a new school year. This year’s event, held the morning of Friday, August 26, centered around the theme, and school value, Think Deeply.
Every year, Rowland Hall’s student body president is invited to address the group of students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, and families gathered for Convocation. (Look back at the 2021 and 2020 speeches.) For his speech, student body president Charlie Frech challenged students to help create a great school year by finding ways to think deeply—about friendship, self-discovery, and personal challenges. His speech, lightly edited for style and context, appears below.
Hello, everyone. My name is Charlie Frech, and I am the student body president.
After reflecting on the school value Think Deeply, I have come to the conclusion that there is only one way to demonstrate the merit of this theme: a show-and-tell. Through this trip down memory lane, I hope to demonstrate that thinking deeply is possible at every age, no matter your grade level, and it should be a central component of your experience this year at Rowland Hall.
What I remember most from my days in 4PreK was not the lesson plans of what I learned or the everyday activities we completed, but the friendships I made.—Charlie Frech, class of 2023
My first item that I have brought for you today is my 4PreK yearbook. While flipping through the nostalgic pages of this book, I recognized that while I do miss aspects of 4PreK, like naptime or the “Tricycle Grand Prix,” where my classmates and I competitively raced one another throughout the playground on school-provided tricycles, what I remember most from my days in 4PreK was not the lesson plans of what I learned or the everyday activities we completed, but the friendships I made. After completing 4PreK, I left Rowland Hall, and later returned in seventh grade. For me, the friendships I made in my 4PreK class provided me with much-needed ease from the stresses of being a new student. To this day, I still appreciate the kindness and friendship that Heidi Paisley, Katerina Mantas, Jordan Van Orman, Julia Summerfield, Maile Fukushima, Mikel Lawlor, and Noah Shewell offered me when I entered the doors of the Lincoln Street Campus in seventh grade—as many of my current classmates remember, a shy kid with an extremely over-gelled, slicked-back hairdo. And no, it is not a perm. Thus, for all of the beginning and lower school students, I urge you to think deeply about how you can make new friends this year, because relationships matter.
The next item I brought to my show-and-tell today is an audio recording of me from Mr. Ainsworth’s eighth-grade Spanish class, butchering pop star Marc Anthony’s world-famous song Vivir Mi Vida with my own take on the lyrics.
Let me be the first to apologize to all of you, especially to my eighth-grade younger brother, Andrew Frech. I realize I may have just become a meme in the Middle School. But that horrific noise we all just heard surprisingly also provides a lesson on how to think deeply. In middle school, students start to find and use their own unique voices, literally and figuratively, as they learn more complicated subjects and transition into teenagers. This year, I challenge all of the middle schoolers to think deeply about how they will find their voices, whether through public speaking, artistic or athletic expression, or service projects. Luckily for all of us, I never pursued developing my voice as a singer.
The last item I brought today was our final project from physics last year: a model airplane. To me, this object represents the final way we can think deeply: by applying the lessons we learn from our teachers in order to develop our abilities to think critically, take risks, and solve problems creatively in the outside world. When my buddy Alex Yang and I worked on this plane last year, we faced many challenges. The wheels were too weak to hold the plane up, our propeller kept flying off our motor, and the electrical tape we used to attach our wires kept falling off. Nevertheless, we used the skills of diligence and hard work that Mr. Hori taught us to build our plane. For all of the high schoolers, I encourage you to continue to think deeply and apply the skills and values you learn inside the classroom to every facet of your life in the outside world. Sophomores, use the lessons of angles from your math class to prepare for the treacherous endeavor of parallel parking on campus as you are running late for class. Or seniors, apply the lessons of perseverance that you have learned from the late nights of writing essays and preparing for final exams to survive the toil and anguish of senioritis.
I want all of you, no matter your grade level, to realize the importance of thinking deeply, and how it encompasses all of Rowland Hall’s core values.—Charlie Frech
If I want you to take anything away from this Convocation speech, it is not that I am a horrible singer. Rather, I want all of you, no matter your grade level, to realize the importance of thinking deeply, and how it encompasses all of Rowland Hall’s core values: learning for life, welcoming everyone, living with purpose, and forming meaningful relationships. Thinking deeply applies to how we build friendships. It is completely in our control the level of kindness and empathy we show, and how much we support and care about others. Think deeply to make a new friend this year. Additionally, think deeply about how you challenge yourself and find your voice. Try something new. Join the band, play a new sport, take a new elective, create a club. Finally, apply everything you think deeply about in the classroom and apply those lessons to your life outside of Rowland Hall. Rowland Hall is an amazing school because it teaches you how to think, not only what to think. To conclude, I want to welcome all of our new students. We are delighted to have you join our community. I wish all the students, the teachers, and the administration the very best of school years, and, in the words of Marc Anthony, I hope you all have time to smile, to dance, and to live your best lives because I know that for me:
Voy a reír, voy a bailar
Vivir mi vida, la la la la