Dr. Wheeler's Introductory Remarks at 81st Annual Tree Trim

Read Dr. Wheeler's remarks including a tribute to and comments from John Pierson. 

81st Annual Celebration of Tree Trim and Caroling

Monday, December 8th, 2008 9:00am


Part One:


Welcome to Tower Hill School’s 81st Annual Tree Trim celebration. All of us assembled here today, faculty and staff, students and parents, grandparents, alumni, friends and visitors, come together today to witness and participate in this special Tower Hill tradition.


Before we proceed with the Tree Trim ceremony, I must mention that a week ago the Tower Hill community lost one of its longest standing and most beloved members, John Pierson. Mr. Pierson was a lifer at Tower Hill, graduating with the class of 1959 and then returning to our community to teach and coach in the fall of 1968. Mr. Pierson’s life was one dedicated to service. Whether he was teaching or coaching or organizing community service activities, Mr. Pierson’s focus was always on others. Before he passed away he put some thoughts down on paper, and these thoughts were shared at his funeral. I would like to read a portion of these to you now. Mr. Pierson wrote:


“I have been so lucky to have had the family, friends, colleagues and students that I’ve had over the years. Love can be an amorphous thing, hard to define, difficult to get your arms around at times, but if we have known love, we don’t need a definition. Treasure life and all that it brings, and love one another to the best of your ability. Have no regrets and try to leave a positive imprint on those around you. Don’t look to the past except to learn from it; look ahead and make the most of it.”


John Pierson was a lifer at Tower Hill, and as such, he participated in the Tree Trim ceremony both as a child being lifted, by my calculations, in December of 1946, and as a lifter in his senior year, which was in December of 1958. Our Tree Trim celebration hasn’t changed much in all of these years. That’s one reason this tradition holds such a powerful place in our community. While it is true that our celebration today contains symbols and songs of Tower Hill’s Christian heritage, it is also true that our ceremony today contains a custom unique to this community, and it is this custom that is truly our focus. Our Tower Hill family comes together at this time of year to observe some of our oldest students, who are only with us for five more months, help our youngest students decorate the Christmas tree. I hope that we all find peace and joy in being together this morning as we remember those who have come before us and participated in this tradition, like our dear friend John Pierson, and imagine the generations of Hillers to come who will do just as we do today.


Part Two:


Now for our Tree Trim ceremony. This morning you will see all of our seniors helping the faculty with our lower school children, as the little ones prepare to place their ornaments on the tree. We have a number of seniors, 31 to be exact, who were themselves lifted by seniors 12 or 13 years ago and who have now come full circle. This tradition is one that has taken place 80 times before. By observing this tradition today we connect to our past as we look to the future. And like the evergreen tree, our tradition celebrates the renewal of the Tower Hill family.



I will read the names of 31 members of our senior class who have been with us since at least 1996. Seniors, as I call your names I invite you to stand in front of the tree as a group. After I finish reading all of their names please give them a warm round of applause:



Fletch Singles

Ben Keller

Blaise Taylor

Emily Schuckert

Gabby Dressler

Joanna Kelly

Jake Graham

Katie Applegate

Logan Weaver

Lucy Nutting

Max Friedman

Molly Rosen

Trip Ashley

Preston Boyden

Ripley Nielsen

Hunter Bolling

Sam Greenberg

Sam Durgin

Sloan Trapnell

Lexi Saunders

Andrew Kreshtool

Ben Rigrodsky

Brian Felzer

Evan Kreshtool

Kendall Cohen

Michael Kreshtool

Remy Denner

Erik Schubert

Koko Ekong

Meghan Lam

Claire Xue





The Polish born American theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote “Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” He also said that each of us should live each day as if our life was a piece of art…John Pierson lived his life this way, and I hope that his memory will inspire us all to make masterpieces of our own lives.