Montclair Kimberley Academy’s Annual All-School Gathering epitomizes everything that makes MKA special, a community that is as diverse as it is united. Headmaster Thomas W. Nammack welcomed 1,042 students, over 200 faculty and staff members as well as Trustees, alumni and special guests to the school’s 25th All-School Gathering on Friday, October 5th.
“We are one school when it comes to our mission and our values – and today is that special opportunity to be under one roof, to make some noise, to be inspired by student performances and to treasure the bonds that connect us,” Nammack said in his remarks.
Adding to this special morning of school spirit and community were two milestone celebrations. The first was the celebration of MKA’s Community Scholars’ Program 50th Anniversary with remarks from Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson, MKA alumnus class of 1973 and MKA’s first Community Scholar. Established in 1969 by Montclair Academy, the Community Scholars Program is the longest standing commitment of MKA’s financial aid program. There are seven Community Scholars at any one time in the school, and over the past 50 years these scholars have proven to be some of the most accomplished and remarkable people to graduate from MKA. Mayor Jackson recalled that the support he received and the opportunity to attend MKA changed the course of his life. In addition, he recalled that his MKA class was made up of only 42 boys, saying “…things have definitely changed for the better!”
The theme of half century celebrations continued with a tribute to Upper School science teacher George Hrab, honoring his 50th year of teaching at MKA, his legacy, and his impact on students throughout the years. Hrab and his wife, Myra Hrab, MKA faculty member from 1982-2007, were treated to a musical tribute and thunderous, appreciative applause.
Student talent was on exhibit with exemplary performances from the Primary School Bellringers playing “America the Beautiful,” Middle School Chamber Singers, Middle and Upper School Jazz Ensembles, Middle School Dance Ensemble, Upper School Advanced Dance Class, a solo dance performance by Ronny Bhatia ’19, and the Upper School a cappella group Remix, who delivered a powerful rendition of an Ariana Grande Mashup.
MKA’s flourishing athletics program celebrated with the presentation of team athletic honors from 2017-18, as well as by rousing performances from the MKA Cheerleaders and Step Team. Individual student academic, athletic and fine and performing arts accomplishments were celebrated with the awarding of MKA sweaters. The school’s renowned faculty was recognized by Alumni Council President Amanda Englander, Class of 2004, who spoke highly of and presented the Founders’ Cup for Teaching Excellence to Upper School theatre and dance teacher Nicole Hoppe.
Middle School 8th Grade Class President Morgan Riley ’23 spoke about “new beginnings” and exhorted the audience to “speak up, express yourself, be authentic and let us know who you truly are.” Upper School Student Government President Julia Thompson ’19 touched on themes of the past, present, and the future. She encouraged the audience to “treasure each moment of the journey” and to “make the most out of now.” Senior Class President Casey Borella ’19 led one of the celebration’s most special traditions as she read the names of all Kindergarteners while they were welcomed by the seniors and presented with a very friendly toy cougar.
From the sea of MKA spirit gear, to the cheers for Kindergartners receiving MKA Cougars, school spirit was high (and loud!) as The All-School Gathering concluded with the youngest member of the Class of 2031, Aarav Aggarwal, ringing the Academy Bell to officially mark the start of MKA’s 131st school year.