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Virtual Belltower Ceremony Carries on OES Tradition

OES’s 151st school year officially began on Wednesday with a virtual Belltower Ceremony to ring in 2020-21. About 650 students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni joined in the first-ever live broadcast of the ceremony.

Head of School Mo Copeland welcomed 63 new Lower School students, 28 new Middle School students, and 32 new Upper School students—more than 90 new families to our community.

"This Belltower Ceremony is one of the few times a year when we are all together as a community," Copeland said. "As part of the richness of our Episcopal heritage, 'together' takes on new meaning. As I look out to an empty Belltower circle, I can sense your presence and I can create in my mind's eye and my heart, the wonderful energy and delightful optimism of fall that having everyone in this circle physically brings every year."

Student Body President Charlie H. '21 remarked that the school year and opening ceremony come at a pivotal time in everyone’s lives.

"Just as moving into year 151 is somewhat of a reset for our minds, leaving behind the special 150 and working our way towards the next big round number, let’s aim for a reset of our spirits, as well," Charlie said. "What we’re experiencing right now doesn’t have to be something to endure. We’re being afforded an opportunity right now, in these certainly unique set of circumstances––a global pandemic and a historic push for racial justice––to reinvent and become stronger, smarter, and more engaged students and global citizens, and to carry our school and its invaluable spirit of community through these challenges."

The community also heard from Head Chaplain The Rev. Phillip Craig, Board President Dan Drinkward '95, Upper School Chaplain Katie Seltzer, and, in his last Belltower Ceremony before retirement, Chairman of the OES Board The Rt. Rev. Michael Hanley, about the strength of the OES community.

Summed Charlie, "It’s not just school that provides for students, but often the other way around. Each of us––from the Lower School to the seniors––with our individual contributions to the essence of OES, has an opportunity to make this an incredible, and certainly an unforgettable year. And when the next special anniversary comes along, and another student body president or head of school uses this ceremony to reflect on the past, this will be another chapter of adversity in our history, but one that’s remembered for the grace, resilience, and growth that our community displayed."

Did you miss the 2020 Belltower Ceremony? Watch a recording of the broadcast at oes.edu/events.