Welcome Back to the Hilltop

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language

And next year’s words await another voice.

And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”


There it is again. That buzz, that palpable energy flowing down hallways and across campus. Students and teachers filling the school with warmth and excitement.  It began with today’s new student orientation—tomorrow that energy will swell as our full student body arrives, ready to make a new beginning.

For the first time ever, I’ll miss greeting students as they arrive for the first day of classes. A small cohort of St. Luke’s teachers and administrators will attend Jim Decatur’s service in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Wild horses could not keep me from Jim’s family—but I am saddened to miss the fresh faces and endless possibilities of the first day.

I cannot adequately thank this community for its support. In true St. Luke’s form, we came together to deal with a terrible loss. Parents, students, and alumni wrote, called, and came to the Hilltop in droves wanting to know one thing: What can I do to help?

Our teachers, though still deeply shaken, have made our students top priority. Classrooms are sparkling, lessons are primed, and everyone is ready to make this a wonderful year.

I’m back on campus Thursday. Jim will be in my thoughts—his big smile in my heart.

Welcome Back to the Hilltop

The first days of school always brim with possibilities. What will the year hold for us? How will new programs be received? How will new students react to St. Luke’s traditions such as first week field trips, service days, and opening assemblies?

During this week’s assemblies, I’ll talk with students about the St. Luke’s Honor Code. I like to tie this pillar of SLS culture to current events (this year – Lance Armstrong) so that students connect it to “real life.” As I reread the code, as I do every summer, it struck me that our most fundamental beliefs are the guard rails keeping St. Luke’s grounded as we pursue new experiences and embrace a changing education landscape.

It all brings to mind a discussion I had with several international colleagues during my trip to New Zealand (which I wrote about in an August letter to parents). While focused on the concept of building resilience in students, we explored the word’s etymology and discovered that resiliency means more than bouncing back to an original condition. Resiliency also refers to an ability to retain shape while changing and moving forward. (Think of a ball bouncing forward.)  Aha! That explains why this word resonates so…St. Luke’s is resilient, a characteristic we want to pass on to our children.

I plan to have more conversations in the SLS community around this topic of resilience. Our secret to success has been our ability to maintain all that is good (tightly-knit community, strong service ethic, excellent academics) while evolving and embracing new ways to develop lifelong learners and socially responsible citizens.  How exciting it is to know we can continue to bounce forward…together.

It’s good to be back and fully connected with the St. Luke’s community.

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