Welcome to the frontier of a new school year! Although I have experienced decades of school openings, each year feels distinct and unique. What could be more exciting than the promise of discovery that accompanies the start of the new school year? September arrives brimming with opportunities to be brave and bold as we join with students and families to begin the next step in each individual student’s educational journey. I am honored to be part of this community of learners which inspires and encourages everyone, student and teacher alike, to face the frontier with hope and optimism.
Last Friday, we welcomed our pioneering thinkers to campus with our first ever outdoor convocation event. We were all grateful for that morning. After all, we were together in person as an entire school for the first time since 2019! The brilliant blue sky and gentle breeze captured and enhanced the joyful mood. The focus was on the future and we were reminded of the power of kindness, compassion, and decency by Andy Webster, Head of School, and Ayesha Sitlani, President of the Board of Trustees. At no time could this sage advice be more welcome or needed when so much upheaval and uncertainty exists in the world. Children of all ages need reassurance and hope, an understanding that school remains a place to be oneself and to find some normalcy when life can feel fraught with uncertainty. We head into the second school year amidst a pandemic, yet we find ways to experience “normal” in our everyday interactions at school.
From convocation last week to the resumption of full band, vocal, drama, dance programs and athletic competition, we are grateful for all we are able to do this year. We know that children need a wide range of experiences, opportunities, knowledge, and skills beyond their academic pursuits in order to be fully prepared for the world of college and beyond. As Arnold Toynbee wrote in A Study of History, “No tool is omnicompetent. There is no such thing as a master-key that will unlock all doors.” Those with a range of talents, capacities, and tools will be best prepared for the frontier of the future.
The new school year also provides opportunities to continue important community efforts already underway. Part of the bravery and boldness needed to make the most of the new school year involves leaning in fully to conversations and actions needed to ensure our extremely diverse community is also one of inclusivity. Faculty and staff spent time this August engaging in such conversations, and we are eager for these conversations to continue throughout the school year and for actions we will take as a community to improve the school experience for all.
As the first week of school comes to a close, I reflect upon the number of parents I enjoyed seeing on campus visiting the Ram Shop, attending in-person orientation events, and connecting with old and new friends alike at our welcome back barbecue. It was wonderful to be on campus together instead of on Zoom. This marks a distinct and welcome return to days of 2019 which we may have taken for granted. I look forward to seeing many of you here “in three dimensions,” as I am now fond of saying, over the coming year. It is indeed a great year to be a Ram!
Are you interested in learning more about the future for which we are preparing today’s students? I encourage you to read David Epstein’s 2019 book Range: Why generalists triumph in a specialized world.”