Shady Side Academy officially installed alumnus Bartley P. Griffith Jr. '93 as its president in a formal ceremony held Thursday evening, Oct. 10, 2019, at the Hillman Center for Performing Arts on the SSA Senior School campus.
More than 500 members of the SSA community attended the ceremony in Richard E. Rauh Theater, which opened with a musical performance of Here Comes the Sun by the SSA Jazz Combo. Rev. Tom Johnson '73 gave the invocation, and SSA Board of Trustees Chair Jon Kamin '91 welcomed guests. Senior School math teacher Sue Whitney gave remarks on behalf of the SSA faculty, and Gilman School Headmaster Henry Smyth, whom Griffith worked under before his appointment at SSA, read a poem.
Then, students from each of SSA's four campuses presented Griffith with gifts. Country Day School fifth grader Ellie Laman and third grader Giovani Diaz gave Griffith a compass to help guide him on his journey as president. Junior School fifth graders Julian Brown and Breslyn Plesh Stock-Bratina gave him a framed silly photo of the Junior School community and an honorary "Doctorate in Fun" degree for being such a fun president. Eighth graders Caroline McLaughlin and Kamal Elsayed presented him with a framed copy of the Middle School motto, "What You Do Matters," and wristbands for his family with the same motto to help him remember those important words. Senior School 12th graders Daniel Xu and Molly Skvorak presented Griffith with an image of Rowe Hall etched into wood using the precision laser cutter in the new Glimcher Tech & Design Hub, as well as a photo mosaic of Rowe Hall featuring photos of Senior School students, in recognition of his respect for the past, his interest in the students and his vision for the future.
The Senior School Chamber Choir performed In My Life by The Beatles, one of Griffith's favorite bands. Griffith's wife, Danica, introduced Rev. Dr. Bill Clarkson, former president of The Westminster Schools in Atlanta and a friend and mentor of Bart's, who gave the installation address. Clarkson hired both Bart and Danica as faculty members at Westminster, where they first met, and years later officiated their wedding.
Kamin gave the formal investiture and charge to Griffith as president, who accepted the charge "with a full heart," saying "I am all in, Shady Side." He thanked program participants, his predecessors (including former SSA presidents Emerson Johnson and Peter Kountz who were in attendance), the administration, faculty, staff, students, local civic leaders, and most importantly, his family. Reflecting on the history of SSA and its tradition of asking bold questions, he closed by saying "As your president, I promise we will continue asking big, audacious questions together. I promise we will lead in a world that desperately needs leadership. And, most importantly, I promise we will take good care of one another, loving both our school and its people with all our might." Read Bart Griffith's full acceptance speech here.
Kountz gave the benediction, and all guests joined in singing the SSA alma mater to conclude the program. A reception immediately followed the ceremony on the Mary Hillman Jennings Plaza.
View the ceremony highlight video and photo slideshow below, or view a video of the full ceremony on YouTube.