The opening of Baylor’s 125th school year on Aug. 15, 2018 was a remarkable contrast to the first day of classes on Sept. 12, 1893.
When the school first opened at its original location on the corner of McCallie Avenue and Lindsay Street, 31 boys ages 10-17 were greeted by principal John Roy Baylor with an inspection rather than fanfare. According to Jim Hitt’s book, It Never Rains After Three O’Clock, Baylor lined up the boys with the tallest at one end down to the smallest. “Place your hands down by your sides with your fingernails out, and raise your hands to that I can see them. I want to see if your shoes are shined, your fingernails are clean, your hands are clean, your face its clean, your hair is brushed and properly cut, and you are dresses properly. I don’t want any boys coming to my school who are just going to be rough necks.”
The first day of school for the 2018-19 school year began in a crowded field house where 1,083 young men and women joined others in the school community for a convocation event that struck a celebratory note, but was also deeply respectful of school values and traditions. Fine arts department chair Beth Gumnick delivered the keynote address (introduced by faculty member and coach Heather Ott) comparing the first day of school to a play audition, and offering some of the same advice that she gives to actors when working on a show.
The traditional class flag procession featured sixth grader Aly Sohani ’25; seventh grader Helen Guerry ’24; eighth grader Caleb Hampton ’23; freshman Nick McKenney ’22; sophomore Starr Hinton ’21; junior John Liu ’20; and senior Belle Wilson ’19.
Also participating in the ceremony was veteran math instructor Dr. Dan Kennedy, who carried the faculty flag; and headmaster Scott Wilson ’75, who entered waving the school’s official flag.
The invocation was delivered by senior Bailey Priddy and the pledge of allegiance by freshman Owen Kadrie. A special welcome was delivered by nine members of the school’s international community with a greeting in their native language from their home country: Aline Houben, Belgium; Nick Cooper, Bermuda; Paulo Sa, Brazil; Manuel Achurra, Chile; Monica Chen, China; Sami Sadeharju, Finland; Alex Borisov, Russia; Santi Cervantes, Mexico; Matthew Tanrudee, Thailand; and Anh Phan, Vietnam.
Honor Council members and seniors Alex Robinson and Kristopher Kennedy delivered remarks about Baylor’s 116-year Honor Code, and assistant headmaster Shaw Wilson ’84 led the traditional “blazer ceremony” where seniors officially wear their red blazers for the first time.
The ceremony closed with the singing of the school’s Alma Mater led by the Baylor choir directed by Vic Oakes. The benediction was delivered by school chaplain Rev. Dan Scott.