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Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

Webbies put on their dancing shoes with Mr. Szanyi at Convocation

Nichola Monroe
Mr. Szanyi demonstrated the choreography on zoom.

A deafening roar rips across campus, a class cheer sounding from the crossroads. It is almost dinner time, and it is still too warm. Legs stick to white foldable chairs. The whole community is gathered, and the mood of crossroads is respectful, peaceful, mildly bored, as students, faculty, and staff embrace a new beginning. This is a typical Webb Convocation. 

But, of course, this year forced a 180, as the 2020 Convocation began online. The ceremony followed its usual procession of speeches, starting with Taylor Stockdale, Head of Schools, and ending with Abbie Oh Arroyo (‘21) and Jake Sharifi (21), student government executives, introducing the school year. But here was one of the biggest changes. 

Something was missing. The raucous, visceral, kind of overwhelming experience of being together in the crossroads was completely altered — the ROAR of class unity was missing, our class cheers impossible. 

But a new surprise graced the traditional procession of speeches at an entirely online Convocation on Zoom. It started when Mr. Stockdale said, “Mr. Szanyi has something special to share with us.” All returning students knew what this meant: we were going to dance.  

And so it began. Michael Szanyi, Head of the Webb Dance Company taught us the moves, before the big finale when dozens of students and faculty in little boxes on a screen rose from their seats, and began the choreography to the groovy beat of September by Earth, Wind, and Fire.  

I know from experience here at Webb that dance brings people together,” said Mr. Szanyi. 

“I think that the dance really contributed a sense of participation and community,” said Emily Berg (‘24). I felt like I was a part of something even though I am isolated in my bedroom at home. It also made me feel more comfortable with the online situation knowing that I wouldn’t feel as alone as I thought I would. 

“I felt that it really gave that in-person sort of feel to convocation,” said Anthony Villalobos (‘22), who danced from his chair during the event. 

The dance created an experience that allowed us to truly feel connected. 

The goal was [also] to shake convocation up a bit,” said Mr. Szanyi, completely in line with his usual reasoning for trying new things. 

“Who could say no to ‘Shall we Dance?’” said Dr. Mark Lauer, a new humanities department faculty. 

“I think that it truly showed this school year will be what you make of it,” said Maya Gutierrez (‘21). “If you truly participate and become immersed in the Webb life even online, it will be a year to remember! 

“After seeing so many participants, I felt overwhelmed with happiness,” said Mr. Szanyi. 

So, thank you Mr. Szanyi, for reminding us that the Webb spirit lives on even without its campus, and for making the best of all the opportunities given to us. 

Mr. Szanyi’s spontaneous dance break during the 2020 Convocation helped bring warmth to an odd and distant community, reviving the Webb sense of community in a challenging situation. 

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About the Contributor
Nichola Monroe
Nichola Monroe, Chief Editor of Features
If you’re looking for a Webb big sister, Nichola Monroe (‘22) is the person for you. An experienced co-chair of the VWS dorm prefect council, she is always looking for ways to lend her knowledge to newer students both in the dorm and outside. As a returning member of the Webb Canyon Chronicle and this year’s Chief Editor of Features, she is excited to write engaging articles, share her journalism experiences, and help others thrive. Over this last summer, Nichola fostered her leadership skills at a summer camp in Maine. She lived in a cabin with younger girls and taught them how to make ceramics and jewelry, sewing, and other important life skills. Although Nichola usually resides in Dana Point, she is currently living at Webb and hopes to initiate new dorm activities for other boarders in Jameson to enjoy. Also an activist, Nichola cares deeply about current issues like climate change and sustainability. When she’s not helping other people, you can most likely find her outdoors, whether it's dancing, walking her dog at the beach, knitting under a tree, or simply just doing somersaults in front of her dorm. Favorite song: "Stay for the Summer" by Logan & Isabel

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