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Reflections on My Fourteenth Flag Raising

Written by Clara Alger '22

This year, as I stood through my fourteenth and final Flag Raising, I reflected on how this event is both a marker of continuity and a call for renewal. The ceremony is exactly the same each year, complete with a retelling of Germantown Academy’s history, the concert band playing Battle Hymn of the Republic, and bells tolling. The story feels like one you might hear a family member tell every year at Thanksgiving. By now, I could probably recite the passages about the school’s dwindling enrollment and subsequent revival, the tree gifted to the school from George Washington, and the founding of the first drama club in the country. Each retelling of our school’s history creates a community connection that shared stories provide. I think Flag Raising is also not only a tradition that means something to Lifers (a student who has been at GA since PreK or Kindergarten), but a way to introduce our school’s culture, history, and values to new community members each year.

But the ceremony is also a reminder that each year begins with the possibility of change, both personal and school-wide. With each Flag Raising you can choose to be a slightly new version of yourself. The arrangement of our community, with tiny PreKers in the front, restless seventh graders in the middle, and self assured juniors at the back, reminds us that we’re entering a new stage at the beginning of each school year. Every year I moved farther back in the Quad, tracking my progress by simply surveying each row ahead of me where I once stood. Flag Raising is also an annual opportunity to see all my former teachers, the people who have watched me progress through the school, gathered together in one place. And this year I finally took my place with the seniors at the front, a position I remember admiring so much as a Lower Schooler.

I can’t wait to return to the Quad at the end of this year to complete my Germantown Academy journey as I graduate!