The GPS opening event wasn’t held in the customary venue, the Frierson Theatre. A lightning strike took out the lights. But the GPS gym somehow seemed the perfect location for the shouts and songs that greeted the new sixth grade class to the school’s opening assembly on Wednesday, said officials.
With the theme song of the movie Harry Potter played over the loudspeakers and the seventh graders through seniors applauding and cheering, the Middle School teachers led the sixth graders to their seats on the gym floor. The newest Bruisers and the rest of the student body also gave a standing ovation to the procession of faculty and staff.
In her address to the gathered students and faculty, Interim Head of School Dr. Sue Groesbeck said, “What a wonderful tradition this is, this gathering of excited, engaged, and passionate young women who are the lively center of this place for sound learning.” Remarking on the rich history of the school, she identified the anniversaries that are being celebrated this year: 100th year of May Day, 90 years of the uniform, 80 years of the Honor System, 60 years of Terpsichord, 30 years of the Bruiser girl, and 20 years of the crew team and the popular Changes & Choices class.
“This first day is always full of hope,” said Dr. Groesbeck. “I hope you’ll come ready to work and have fun, proud to be a GPS student.” She encouraged all of the girls to make three adjectives their own: resilient, adventurous, and discerning, noting that “there’s value in making mistakes,” and encouraging them to seek out partnerships for learning. “Question what you’re hearing,” she said. “Develop healthy radar between hype and fact.”
Referencing the mission and values of GPS, she closed by posing a question to the students, “What kind of world and school do you want?”
The seniors chose wands as their method to pair classmates with the newest sixth graders for the annual Cat-Rat event on Tuesday.
The “staffs of magical power,” as they are defined and presented in fairy tales, were tall, short, glittered and multi-colored. Traditionally, each senior decorates or creates a pair of items, and the Cat-Rat match is made when the sixth grader discovers her “twin.” Wands were adorned with tulle, ribbons, and bows; they were enhanced with mirrors, festooned with feathers, embellished with monograms, graced with grosgrain, and beautified with beading.
When each sixth grade Rat found her Cat, they went to the GPS Dining Room for the annual lunch planned by cafeteria manager Tom Goetz and his staff. Mason jar centerpieces invited the girls to “Park your Wand Here” before enjoying the chicken finger, fruits, and cookie lunch.
Afterwards, the Rats spun a bingo cage to retrieve balls printed with the number determining when the seniors will give their chapel talks. “Rats” of the Honor Council president, Student Council president, and president of the Senior Class didn’t have to draw; their senior Cats will give their chapel talks in the first two weeks of school.
The senior class enjoyed a supper Monday at the Founders House, home of Interim Head of School Sue Groesbeck and her husband Mark, where plans were finalized for the Cat-Rat event and many introductions and welcomes were shared between girls and their new school leader.
GPS "Rat" and "Cat" with their matching wands.