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A Lighthouse or a Clubhouse?

Saint David's School is a lighthouse.

One of the aspects I enjoy most about my work is the opportunity to spend time with children.  They constantly remind us of our inadequacies and shortcomings, are full of optimism, and have this insatiable thirst for knowledge.  Eating lunch today with the 1st grade was no exception.  After listening to a thousand stories about double, triple and super-x squared black diamond ski experiences during spring break, over rigatoni with meat sauce, one of my little neighbors asked, "So, Dr. O'Halloran, what do you ski?" "The Bunny Hill," I replied.  This, it goes without saying, became quite the novelty for the rest of lunch.

At a Saint David's function tonight in thanking a particular group for all their efforts, I told the story of the lighthouse and the clubhouse.  One day, a community of concerned coastal dwelling townsfolk who lived by a rocky reef and shoal pooled their resources and decided to build a lighthouse to prevent ships from wrecking on their reef.  The lighthouse, they thought, would serve as a beacon to those who were lost and distressed.  Shipwrecks decreased, but they still occasionally occurred.  In response, the townsfolk decided to form a rescue squad that would set out from the lighthouse to brave the stormy weather and rocky shoal to rescue those stranded by their wrecks.  Not content with mere rescue, they soon expanded the lighthouse again to provide accommodation and meals to stranded sailors until they had recovered enough to embark on their journey home.

Over time these original townsfolk passed away.  The newer members began to question why they were putting themselves at such great risk to save such careless travelers.  They also grew increasingly concerned and uncomfortable about inviting strangers into their community, soggy and wet, spoiling their beautiful accommodations; and the upkeep of the lighthouse, the waste of resources, the cost of the electricity.  The light in the house soon dimmed and eventually went out, all without anyone really noticing.

The new residents and their successors continued to beautify and expand their "facility by the sea" until one day they decided to change it from a lighthouse to a clubhouse.

Saint David's is a lighthouse.  To keep it so we must constantly reflect on our mission and philosophy--our reason for being--and reinforce those values and traditions, those ideals most important to our core function.  Today the first graders, even though a little crudely, reminded me of that.  It's about the boys.

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