The Circle Comes to Life with New and Returning Students

Groton School enthusiastically welcomed 88 new students—and many more returning students—to campus on Sunday.

The new students came to the Circle from all over the country and the world—from 15 states and Washington, DC, and from Mexico, China, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Korea. Most of the newcomers—52 of them—join the Third Form (ninth grade), while 24 join the Second Form, 11 the Fourth Form, and one the Fifth Form. A few new students have been on campus all week for varsity preseason activities, but the vast majority arrived at the Headmaster’s House Sunday morning, ready to greet Groton and to find their place on the Circle.
At the Headmaster’s House, new students met their Sixth Form advisors; each new student is assigned to a senior who helps ease the transition, shows the advisee around, and helps him or her feel at home. Members of Groton’s volunteer Move-In Crew, unmistakable in their bright orange shirts, helped students and parents carry things into the dorms.

Parents had the opportunity to meet with dorm heads and their children’s faculty advisors, and at 2 p.m. met on the terrace outside the Dining Hall for both a welcome and a send-off from Headmaster Temba Maqubela. “Groton is a place of tradition and belonging,” Mr. Maqubela said, standing in the shadow of St. John’s Chapel, which was built at the turn of the 20th century. He then pointed toward the mountaintops in the open vista on the west of the Circle, noting that they represent the possibilities and opportunities awaiting Groton students.

A longtime chemistry teacher, the headmaster referred to Groton teachers as “catalysts,” experienced change-makers who consider teaching and mentoring students their calling. “There will be times when [students] don’t know where they’re headed,” he said, then reassured parents that the adults at Groton “will carry them on their broad shoulders and show them where the mountain is.”

Mr. Maqubela urged parents not to text their children right away, but to write “an old-fashioned letter.” He explained that he still has his grandfather’s letters, with messages about humility and respect—messages that might have been lost to the ages if sent electronically. 

Finally, Mr. Maqubela expressed his gratitude. “Thank you for your children. Thank you for entrusting them to us,” he told Groton parents. “Taking care of the children—that is our #1 priority.”