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Showing posts from September, 2011

A Correction

Writing my opening letter of the school year, I quoted from Mark Twain's early piece Old Times on the Mississippi that originally appeared in, I think, The Atlantic Monthly.  In reflecting on a reading of it long ago, I associated Twain's main character in Old Times with Tom Sawyer.  However, I realize upon further reflection and research that it was in fact more autobiographical.  The main character's identity is not so clear, but it's probably Twain himself.  My apology for the error.

Opening Chapel Talk

Following is my opening Chapel Talk.  The talk, or some variation of it, was given to the boys in grades 3 through 8 during their regularly scheduled Chapel time today.  

Good morning, boys.  Welcome back.
It’s a new year.   
Work smart. Work on.
Today, you are surrounded by newness.  It is a new school year.  You are in a new grade.  You have new teachers, new homerooms, new sports teams, new pens, pencils, books and even, maybe new shoes. You may feel a little nervous, maybe a little excited.  Maybe you feel anxious, even a little “unsure” because of all this newness.  You know too, that more will be expected of you this year—by your teachers, your parents, and even by you yourself.  There is much that may seem different, fresh, novel--new; but some things, if you look closely, haven’t changed.  In fact, we can all take great comfort in the fact that some of the most important things haven’t changed at all.

The mission of Saint David’s School can be found on the walls of our classrooms…

The Book: It Can't Die

I read and hear with greater frequency "the book is dying."  We live in a time where instant information often drowns reason, gossip trumps news, and knowledge of the immediate defeats rigorous analysis, critical reflection, and eloquent debate; where the infotainment scoop often supersedes journalistic integrity.  There have, without doubt, been many new conveniences and welcomed advantages with the advent of the Internet and all its offspring: Twitter, Facebook, wikis, blogs, nings, and list serves (remember those); but the value of thoughtfully conceived ideas fully reflected upon, critiqued and edited is without equal.  As David Ulin puts it in The Lost Art of Reading – Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time: "Reading is an act of resistance in a landscape of distraction.... It requires us to pace ourselves. It returns us to a reckoning with time. In the midst of a book, we have no choice but to be patient, to take each thing in its moment, to let the …

A Schoolhouse's Light

High atop a hill overlooking the sea, a beautiful lighthouse illuminates the night, showing the way.  It was built by the residents of a small hamlet, concerned by the number of shipwrecks witnessed and wayfarers who had lost their way. It was a prodigious lighthouse. As time passed though, the lighthouse’s beauty faded and the light went dark.  Successive generations of hamletfolk, losing sight of their ancestors’ original intentions, ignored the lighthouse’s upkeep, disregarded its importance, and in an effort to satisfy a more selfish need, eventually converted it to a clubhouse.
For institutions to be strong and vibrant they can never loose sight of their founding principles or true purpose.  Institutions that do can easily become something far different than their founding intention.  As Saint David’s passes the mid-point of its 60th anniversary year, we continue to illuminate and reflect upon our mission, critically evaluating its purpose and redefining its significance for today…

A Race

On a racetrack in the mountains of northern Westchester on Thursday, September 1st, 2011, the senior administrative team of Saint David's School, pursued a common goal.  Working in teams of three, they learned the challenges of a NASCAR pit crew and the skill and endurance required of a race car driver.  To successfully achieve the goals they established required, in addition to deliberate planning and flawless execution, a focused desire to overcome the many obstacles before them.  At left, Business Administrator Jack Sproule with Dean of Studies Ali Aoyama, and Director of After School Shadeed Elliot compete in the Pit Stop Challenge.

The exercise, the leadership group's opening meeting of the school year, allowed the team to explore this year's school-wide theme of "rigorous pursuit." Like Dale Earnhardt, Jr., or the famous Australian race car driver Peter Brock, the administrators realized that to succeed they needed the combined talents of each of their team…

Rigorous Pursuit

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go."
Anything of value is rarely acquired without its “rigorous pursuit.”  Even though we may wish for chance or luck to bring us what we desire, it almost never happens that way. Something of value must first be recognized and identified, its acquisition planned for and pursued. This pursuit cannot be haphazard and tangential; rather it must be focused and deliberate.  In responding to a reporter who asked how it felt to have failed 2000 times before successfully inventing the light bulb, Thomas Edison famously replied, “I never failed once. It just happened to be a 2000-step process.” 
This journey to successful achievement is rarely easy; it is often fraught with frustration and confusion.  Unhappiness can often muddy the road forward, slowing down our progress, trying our patience, and testing our will.  These inevitable setbacks must not deter us; they must become the lessons of our curricula—t…