Convocation Kicks Off the 2019–2020 Academic Year

Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Sue Malone

Mercersburg Academy’s Opening Convocation took place Sunday, September 1, in the Irvine Memorial Chapel. Classes in the Academy’s 127th academic year as a preparatory school began Monday, September 2.  

(See a video recap of Opening Week 2019)

Faculty member Sue Malone, who will complete 38 years of service to Mercersburg and will be retiring at the close of the 2019–2020 school year, was the featured speaker at this year’s Convocation. 

“No matter where your interests lie, you will need the courage to take risks, to try something others will tell you is crazy,” Malone told the students at Convocation. “Trying something new is what you are about to do, every day, as you learn and grow here at Mercersburg.”

Malone has taught science at Mercersburg for more than 30 years; she has also coached cross country and track & field and served as assistant director of Mercersburg Outdoor Education (MOE). She is a past recipient of the school’s Zern Excellence in Teaching Award.

An avid ultrarunner, Malone has completed several long-distance races, including the famed Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado and a “Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim” run at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. She and her husband, fellow faculty member Jim Malone, are the parents of two Mercersburg graduates: Molly ’01 and Jess ’03. Sue Malone is an adviser and dorm parent in Fowle Hall and an assistant coach for the boys’ cross country team.

“Just like me, you will be reinventing yourself continuously,” Malone said. “Embrace all of the stages of your life. Create a future that allows you to do a lot of different things. Don’t be passive and take the easy way. Become the superhero that you are meant to be.” 

Along with Malone, other participants in the service included Head of School Katherine M. Titus; School Minister Rev. Will Whitmore; former faculty member Alisa Springman; Student Council President Aba Sankah ’20; Peer Group Leader Brandon Lamer-Connolly ’20; a number of students, some of whom carried flags representing each of the school’s four grade levels and all the nations of the student body and faculty; and the Mercersburg Chorale, under the direction of faculty member Bryan Morgan ’07.

During the service, Titus presented Jack Kothari ’20, of Hagerstown, Maryland, with the Robert H. Michelet ’30 Prize, and Monique Garcia ’22, of Passaic, New Jersey, with the John H. Culbertson ’24 Prize. The Michelet Prize is given to the student who, during the upper-middler (11th-grade) year, most distinguishes himself or herself in scholarship, character, and school spirit. The award is supported by an endowment established by Simon Michelet in memory of his son, Robert ’30, whose career at the Academy and at Dartmouth College was almost ideal in its quality and influence. The yield on the endowment is presented each year to the recipient on the assumption that it will be for use during the senior year.

The Culbertson Prize is supported by the F.M. Kirby Foundation of Morristown, New Jersey, which established an endowed program of scholarships to honor the late John H. Culbertson ’24. It recognizes a student entering the 10th grade who gives evidence of exceptional promise and who has already demonstrated outstanding accomplishment.   

The Mercersburg Chorale sings during Convocation 2019.

Mercersburg’s 2019–2020 student body is composed of 442 students, including residents of 27 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and citizens of 35 nations. The Class of 2020 (the Academy’s senior class) numbers 125, with 123 upper middlers (11th graders), 106 lower middlers (10th graders), and 88 juniors (ninth graders).

The school welcomes 10 new faculty members this year: Christian Bancroft (English), Andy Brown (mathematics), Jessica Doubell (technical director in the Burgin Center for the Arts), Cindy Fowler (college counselor), Tim Kerr (history), Bill Kissick (chief development officer), Justine O’Connell (director of global programs/languages), Jennifer Sipes (school counselor), Ryan Tyree (English), and Rudy Wise (associate director of admission).