Opening Day Assembly, 2021-2022

During opening day assembly on Thursday, August 26, seniors continued tradition by sitting on the Haertter Hall stage facing their families, faculty/staff and fellow students. Andy Abbott, senior class president Liam Taylor and student body president Andy Zhang addressed the Class of 2022 and the student body about the year ahead.

At the start of the assembly, seniors Callie Kaplan, Sophia Park, Audrey Pinson, Vanessa Polk and Hannah Nelson performed the National Anthem. Mr. Abbott made opening remarks, speaking about how happy he was to see all of the classes re-united on campus. He encouraged everyone to use this school year to re-connect and re-ignite a sense of community.  

Liam touched on his memories of the Class of 2022, both lighthearted and inspiring, and Andy encouraged all of his classmates to use the return to in-person school to take advantage of everything Burroughs has to offer, academically and socially, moving from “six groups of 100—to one group of 600.” 

Assembly closed with a men’s a cappella performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by seniors Michael Cummings, Charles Martin, Caleb Merritt and Liam Taylor. 

Liam and Andy's remarks follow; find photos on Campus Candids

Liam Taylor

Hello everyone, my name is Liam. It’s so amazing that we are all here together. I know a lot of people feel like it has been a while since it’s been normal, but really, I don’t feel like it’s ever been normal with us. I mean, it took five minutes of me meeting Evan Harris for us to be twerking on the railing outside of Haertter hall. 

We are, as a class, far from normal, but in the best ways possible. Only Arushi could pull off introducing a guest speaker while simultaneously giving their entire speech before they could get to the podium. And we must never forget when Cullen climbed a tennis court fence to retrieve a tennis ball for spike ball, resulting in his very first court case. And of course, Owen's historic presidential campaign speech in seventh grade, where he promised TVs in the middle school commons, which I am still waiting for. 
Aside from our individualities, we are also one of the most unified classes ever. It took all of two seconds for us to change the 2021 banners in the commons to 2022 once the seniors left for May Project. And the four-square games that came out of nowhere at the end of last year? In case you weren't there, there were lines of 40 people in the quad playing four-square during every period. Even the heat couldn't stop us. We’d simply take over the squash courts and use our phones as the out-of-bounds lines for the court. And, while not our finest moment, our college counselors literally had to turn off the chat in our college counseling Zoom because we kept talking to each other, and making polls for each other. Even in middle school, we participated in grade-wide rock paper scissors contests, the winner, of course, being George Lavigne. And we played spike ball, a lot. We created a family in our class, a tight-knit community that helped us all survive middle and high school.

Our unity has helped us overcome so much together. Over these past 6 years, we’ve faced two major school renovations, two crazy elections, COVID, and the entirety of Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson’s relationship. I got married here, to the amazing Emma Danis (thank you Dr. J for officiating). And I am so thankful to have been through it with you all. Do not take that lightly because when I say something like that, I mean it. Every one of you has impacted my life greatly. You’ve all had a lasting effect on me, and on each other--through the little things like Sofia’s Latin word of the day in assembly or through inspirational presentations like Vanessa’s iconic basketball versus volleyball speech. For instance, the Latin words of the day gave new meaning to words we use all the time, words like procrastinate--something I do often: pro meaning forward, and crastinus meaning “of tomorrow.” And Vanessa’s basketball versus volleyball speech taught us that we don’t have to choose between the things we love to do and that it’s okay not to know what we want to do in the future.

My biggest hope for us this year is that we are good leaders. We set the vibe for the entire school now. It’s our job to introduce the seventh graders to all the great things Burroughs has to offer. We have to help the eighth graders survive their last year of PE. We have to be there for the ninth graders as they adjust to their new lives as high schoolers. We’ve gotta answer questions from the tenth and eleventh graders who are starting to think about the college process. And it’s our job to make sure that everyone knows it’s okay to not be normal. During the welcome picnic earlier this summer, I asked one of the incoming seventh graders if I was an intimidating scary cool senior. He said no, and at first I was hurt. But then I realized that no one should be that senior. We have to build an environment where everyone in the school is comfortable to be who they are, even if they’re cutting through the senior commons to get to the quad. Because that’s what makes school not so boring. If someone wants to dress up as Danielle Cohn on Halloween, let it happen. Or if someone wants to wear neon tennis attire everyday, or pin opened mayo packets to the wall in the commons, that’s how you make memories as a class.

We’ve missed over a year of “normal” school, but that hasn’t stopped us from making memories, learning from each other, and being our proudly abnormal selves. We were still bold enough to play those obnoxiously loud clapping games in the Commons last year. We were still confident enough to make tik toks in the halls during passing periods. And we were still hungry enough to stuff our bags to the brim with leftover desserts after lunch. I’d like to end this speech with a quote, from a wise philosopher, writer, entrepreneur, performer, that holds true for everyone here. “Baby, you're a firework. Come on let your colors burst.”

Have a great year, everyone!

Andy Zhang

Good morning Mr. Abbott, faculty, staff, parents, middle schoolers, high schoolers, and especially, THE CLASS OF 2022! I’m both grateful and honored to be standing here today to help commence the school year.

To the returning students, our journey since last year has been a long one. And to the new kids, yours is just beginning. But regardless, everyone, we’re all in this together.

We’ve all been very familiar with change recently. Our school seemed to be and was quite literally split in two. But even when we lost the parts that made Burroughs Burroughs, we still pushed past the cohorts to hold a hide and seek competition, an online Jeopardy, a Halloween scavenger hunt. We had Commons Cafes, made Canned Food Drive sculptures, and still performed in band and orchestra concerts. We adapted to the change and made it to where we are today.

But now, we’ve begun to get back much of what we’d lost last year. Today marks the return of indoor lunches, the water fountains, the couches! I didn’t realize how hard wood could be until I sat down on those replacement chairs in the commons. But most importantly, there is no more Zoom. Can I get some applause for no more Zoom? In a metaphorical sense, the light is finally replacing the dark.

Now, it’s untrue to say that we’re the most unified that we could be right now, but we’re coming back from the pandemic to make our comeback. Today marks the beginning of what I will call the Year of the Revival. We, the JBS community, will rise from the ashes to rebuild and strengthen ourselves, to celebrate what’s to come in this sort of normal school year. Professor Dumbledore once said, “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” Our job is different than ever before, because it’s up to us this year to fill all the gaps between the students. It took a lot of time and effort to stay connected with those close to us last year, but now is the time to double it, even triple it, regardless of the fact that we’re all back together again. Now is the time to unify everyone, something we’ve all said we wanted to do for a long time. Simple on paper, but difficult to execute.

Now, this means not only reconnecting with the people we haven’t seen for a while, but also getting to know those we’ve never talked to before, maybe never even seen before. The ultimate goal is to turn us from six groups of one hundred to one group of six hundred. And it’s not just up to one person to accomplish that. It’s up to all of us working hand in hand, to make our own connection with the people around us.

For example, you could find a junior at tennis practice who needs a partner. You could be sitting across an 8th grader playing a board game in Mr. Salomon’s room. Or you’ll see a freshman looking nervous before auditions for the musical. These are small chances to connect with someone you’d never meet in a classroom, chances to add another thread to the web of the student body. Don’t take these moments for granted, because we didn’t have many of them moments last year. Everyone plays a role in the unification of the school, to strengthen the whole of the community.

But this year shouldn’t all be about the people around you. Have some time to think about yourself and what you want to do this year. Reach for the goals that you might’ve pushed aside because of the pandemic, use the opportunities that we now have again to improve yourself as an individual. Now is the time to take action, take chances, and embrace the challenges that they’ll bring. Now is the time to bring your thoughts and wishes to reality.

For example, this year, you can be in the Dance Show. This year, you can found the Spikeball club. And this year, you can write for The World, the Review, or even  ! Dive headfirst into what this school has to offer, because moving past your fears or worries of failure is what makes you a stronger individual.

Let yourself be inspired by the people around you. I grew through my journey here at Burroughs watching some of the most talented people I’ve ever met surpass their fears and reach their goals, small or large. As middle schoolers, Anyi Sun was brave enough to give assembly announcements next to high schoolers for Asian Culture Club, and Teddy Gillanders announced his hatred of the Star Wars prequels to the school, even if there were some people that would strongly disagree with him. Liam Taylor, our class president, represented Burroughs for Poetry Out Loud, and Eva Kappas gave a speech in the same meeting as Bernie Sanders. Caleb Merritt and Tyson Ford got like 50 million offers for football combined, Akash Mallady set the two-mile record for track as a junior, and Eliot Barnes, Steven Busch, Erin Lamping, and Niko Theodos smashed school records for swimming and diving as sophomores. 

Since 7th grade all the way up till now as seniors, the people standing on this stage have helped inspire me and so many others to push ourselves and reach our own dreams. These individuals up here know better than anyone how to improve their own skills while still being a huge family, and these are the people that anyone here can learn something from. 

Now, it’s hard to realize when something is a privilege until it’s taken away. But now, we can use our experiences to make the most of this year. Use the chances given to us to learn from the past, embrace the present, and move towards the future. Let’s better not only ourselves, but the people around us. Let’s rise from the ashes and make this year one that we won’t forget. Go bomb!