Below is a letter sent home to Upper School families from, Head of Upper School Laura Ross.
We had a wonderful first day back at Greenhill today. I enjoyed seeing all of your children’s happy faces – it reminded me of how much I miss them over the summer months.
As we do each year, we have an opening assembly that welcomes our students back to campus, identifies new faces, shares announcements, and most importantly, sets the tone for the school year.
Given that the education of your children is a partnership between the School and the family, I wanted to share some of the remarks that the Upper Schoolers heard this morning.
Head of School Scott Griggs opened our assembly with the following message:
“As you know, our theme for the year is respect. In my mind, there is not a better time for us to have chosen this theme – and, I want to thank the Advancing Core Principles committee for offering up this opportunity.
It is during times like we’ve seen this summer and recently that I’m especially thankful to be a part of the Greenhill community. I’m thankful because we are a community that is counter to the discord, anger, fear and hate we hear and see too often in today’s society. We are far from perfect however, and it is imperative that we strive daily to be the best we can be, so that we can serve as a model for others.”
I also shared some thoughts on respect with the students, recognizing the important work that we must all engage in, in order to have a healthy community that values our individual differences:
“We don’t have a very good model for what a healthy community is supposed to look like from the world around us. I talked about this at the beginning of last year as well and I am so sad to realize that this is even more true this year. So what does that mean for us? How do we look each other in the eyes and actually see our common humanity – the hopes, fears, and goals that make us more alike than we are different?
I’m a huge fan of the practice of yoga. Over the past 20 years it’s taught me a lot about compassion, suspension of judgment, and the value of being present in a particular moment. I have a yoga teacher who always closes class by saying the following: “the light, student and teacher in me bows to the light, student and teacher in you.” This phrase has struck a deep chord in me, and I think it applies to what I really think respect means. It means that we all need to look at each other and respect the gifts that other people bring to our lives. It means that we all respect the humanity of each other, and the fact that we are all students and teachers alike. We all have something to learn and to teach. Even if on the surface we think that we have nothing in common with each other, we bow to the fact that every person around us has an equal gift to give and it’s our job to both be teachers and students, and to respect that aspect of the way we interact.”
Student Council President Zach Rudner concluded our formal speeches by bringing our themes into the context of day-to-day life for Upper School students:
“This year, join a new club that might be fun for you, take that extra class that sounds like it might interest you, and in the cafeteria, on pound cake day, you should take an extra slice of cake if that’s what makes you happy. Make the most of this year in every way that you can. Doing so will be to your benefit and to our community’s benefit.
We cannot know everything about the nine months that lie before us but we know that every day we will make choices about what we do, what we say, and who we are. This year, let’s choose to live honorably, respectfully, and compassionately and there is no better day to start that, than today.
I am incredibly excited about the year ahead of us. Our choices are endless and our possibilities are limitless. Let’s each be the best that we can be and together we’ll have a spectacular year.”
As Zach mentioned, this year is full of possibilities. I hope that we all take the time to respect those around us and build an even stronger community.
In closing, the light, student and teacher in me bows to the light, student and teacher in you. Have a wonderful year, everyone.