As we prepare to celebrate the 8th Grade Moving Up Ceremony this afternoon, we bid farewell to Upper School students who finished their exams this week and to our Lower School students on Wednesday.
We celebrated the Class of 2017 at a wonderful graduation last weekend, with picture perfect weather, glorious student music, poignant messages from our faculty speaker Mr. Robinson, as well as witty and well-delivered remarks by our two student speakers. The graduation tent just came down; as it stood empty after graduation, I stared each day out of our bedroom window to see it standing there, having held under it so much energy, talent, love and hope as we sent off the Class of 2017. I share an excerpt from my "charge" to the Class of 2017:
"Seniors, you are a class that all of us truly love. You are a class that has been willing to embrace the new tradition of senior speeches, and I can't imagine a better class to set the bar as high as you have. You stood tall, you were real, and your teachers and I were impressed with your poise and all the ways you chose to share your stories, your passions, your ideas, and opinions with the rest of the student body. The world needs your voices and we want to hear them; remember to tell the truth and to share your voices respectfully.
Your senior year will also be remembered as one in which the nation engaged in an election that challenged even the most thoughtful of adults' ability to listen and discuss different opinions and political ideas without tension or apprehension. You were respectful, articulate, and passionate at what hopefully we will have more of, an Upper School Town Hall at which you talked openly, in a respectful and mature way, about your own ideas, reactions, opinions and questions on real issues facing our country and the world. I am convinced that your class will be positively affected by the juxtaposition of our word for the year, Kindness, and the all too often continued evidence of bigotry, hatred, and violence around our country, the world, and even sometimes in our own communities. I hope you will remember that Tower Hill, while maybe considered counter-cultural, asked you to explore the deeper meaning of this seemingly simple word — Kindness — through your daily lives this year. I hope that somewhere deep within your individual and collective fiber as a class, you will understand that Kindness is often the best answer to complicated issues.
As Mr. Robinson said, "it is time for heroes; it is time not just for the courage of the sword, but for the courage of the heart." As the great educational reform giant of the 1800s Horace Mann said, "Education, beyond all the other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of the conditions of human beings, the balance-wheel of the social machinery." So do not take your Tower Hill education for granted. And finally, dear seniors, and this is from me: Care more about inclusivity than exclusivity, reject elitism and embrace equality, always take the high road, as your integrity will be the very bedrock of your success.
As the academic year winds to an end at Tower Hill, the faculty and I miss your children already. The end of the school year is often bittersweet for those of us in education. No matter how ready we all may be for a change of pace, or how many times we as teachers have experienced the cadence to the end of the year, it leaves us with a profound sense of appreciation and awe.
Thank you for sharing the gift of your children with us. Have a wonderful summer.