““Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be.”
― William Shakespeare
On this day, everything is possible. We can ace this course, score that goal, invent the next big thing, and save the world. As we walk into school for the first time, all bets are off, all dreams within reach.
A good summer fuels this optimism. This was certainly the case on the Hilltop, as construction began on the new Science Wing. As you arrived today, you saw a big pile of dirt – or mud – but I see kids and teachers in the labs and hallways, brainstorming, designing, building. I see people of all ages getting pumped about science, feeling it in their veins. So many possibilities!
This summer, St. Luke’s students also went into the world to find their voice and make a difference. Five students (Jojo Brame ’14, Lauren Britt ’15, Doug Butman ’14, Wyett Dalton ’14 and Christian Duncan ’14) joined Sonia Bell (Director of College Counseling) and Kate Parker Burgard (Director of Character Education) on a week-long Youth Service Opportunities Project in Washington, D.C. As Kate wrote on the Center for Leadership blog: “Each day, we got up and traveled to a different site where we helped with some of the many services available to help those in need. From sorting clothes at the Community Family Life Services, to picking up trash for Parks and People, to packing juices in the Central Food Bank, to preparing food in the DC Central Kitchen we had a great chance to lend a hand to these critical support services…in trips like these I often think the biggest difference we make is in ourselves.”
Jereme Anglin (Director of Theater Arts), Dale Griffa (Music Department Chair), Lisa Hobbs (SLS Parent and Musical Accompanist) and 17 students found their voices performing Godspell at the Fringe Festival in Scotland (photo gallery). A few days into the festival, I received this email from SLS parent Jon Jodka:
“Kim, Henry and I have been here in Scotland since Saturday morning and we are having a ball. We just enjoyed the third Godspell performance in four days and I felt I couldn’t wait to get home to let you know that the St. Luke’s group here is doing you and the entire Hilltop community proud. Their performances have been high energy, filled with great song and heavy drama at the end. Jereme, Dale and Lisa all deserve huge congratulations for the way they have inspired these young men and women to give their all in front of an international crowd. More important than the performances, in my opinion, is just what a great group of nice kids this group is..they seem to genuinely care for and be rooting for each other. Kim and I are so appreciative that Nick has had the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful experience. I’m sure you will hear plenty about it when they all return to CT but I wanted to share my joy and excitement with you while still here.”
Some of us found our voices and made a difference closer to home while reuniting with family and friends. I must say, however, that I lost my voice on my son’s wedding day, July 27th, unexpectedly overcome by emotion as I watched the ceremony that included my other son as officiant and my daughter as bridesmaid. Sometimes emotion sweeps over us when we least expect it to. In this case, it had something to do with the joy that any father would feel when seeing his children together in a wedding ceremony. On further reflection, I realized my tears also sprang from the hopes I have for each of my children. The future holds little certainty, of course, so in that moment the power of possibility, concentrated by the power and optics of a deeply personal public ritual, felt both potent and overwhelming.
As the new school year begins, I don’t want to lose the meaning of those moments. As we rush toward our possibilities, let’s remember why we’re here. We come to school for the sake of our children, to nurture their possibilities. We do so by encouraging and pushing them to be their best selves, and frequently that work manifests itself in one of the many timeless, traditional rituals of school. Like a wedding ceremony, the many public rituals of school sharpen our sense of what children can become. That sense of possibility is what keeps many of us coming back, year after year, to this most noble profession and this most inspiring school. As we begin this school year, I hope every St. Luke’s student, teacher, and parent feels awed by their hopes and dreams, by the power of possibility.
“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!”
― Søren Kierkegaard
Enter to learn. Go Forth to Serve. Welcome back to the Hilltop.