Prairie kicks off new academic year with Convocation celebration

By Callie Atanasoff | Student Life

Graduation comes with formality. Caps and gowns. Precise timing and execution of a program that focuses on reflection through song and speech. It is a capstone to signify the end of one chapter, one more graduating class.

Convocation carries its own distinction, but to a more effervescent tune. While a relatively new practice at Prairie – the school held its first celebration in the fall of 2015 – the event serves as a juxtaposition to the long-standing traditions of Commencement. This fall’s ceremony marked the start of academia, a flourish of optimism rolled out under idyllic blue skies and the loftiest breeze.


Every Prairie student and faculty member gathered on September 2nd to fill the rows of chairs assembled in front of the Primary School circle. There was a beautiful balance between the desire to display unity – each child and adult donning the same grey t-shirt emblazoned with a navy P – and the need for individuality to shine, present in a first-grader’s striped leggings or a middle schooler’s green high-top tennis shoes.

Dr. Nat Coffman and student body president Ricky Granger ’17 took turns on stage and shared hopes and inspiration for the year, their sentiments resonating with both students and teachers alike.

“Take time to build relationships,” Granger urged his fellow schoolmates.

Added Dr. Coffman, “Be creators, not consumers. Follow in the footsteps of Prairie alumni who have gone on to do great things.”

Prairie’s past tells a story of dreams and aspirations. The present shows today’s students how far those dreams have taken our school, and the possibilities that still lie ahead. Past and future were tangibly connected at Convocation 2016 with the inclusion of a time capsule display following the opening remarks. The items selected were representative of Prairie’s journey over the last twenty-five years: an iPad, indicative of technology’s role in our classrooms and the world; a sculpture created by Bill Reid ’73, a symbol that the arts are alive and thriving on campus; school pride in the form of a logoed car sticker.

As with so many events at Prairie, the morning culminated with the sharing of food – cookies covered with a thick layer of frosting and the ever-present P. Students breaking bread, albeit in the form of a sweet treat, with other students and their teachers, signifying the strengthening of lifelong bonds. Relationships forming because time was taken to focus on what’s to come, while sharing in a common goal – a continual pursuit of learning, loving, and growing.