Monday, March 05, 2007

Dear Parents: A letter misaddressed

Originally uploaded by grapefruitmoon.
This morning I received a letter from the headmaster of where I went to high school, Saint James School in western Maryland. The letter was a generic letter, and I'm not sure I was really one of the intended recipients. It was addressed "Dear Parents," and while I am a parent, I'm not a parent of a current student at St. James. The letter did, however, provide good reading, and it reminded me of why I want to return to serve in a boarding school.

Early in his letter, Father Dunnan notes he has just returned from the Winter Varsity Sports Banquet, and he was impressed with the students. He wrote, "But most of all, I was impressed by their journeys: goofy boys becoming responsible young men and silly girls becoming impressive young ladies." He went on to say, "They were interested again not just in themselves or even their teammates; they were interested in the whole company of the school, that greater 'team' which we call Saint James."

One of the things I am looking for in a school is a sense of community. Well, truthfully, I'm looking for more than "a sense." I'm looking for a place that is a community.

Father Dunnan notes that he is privileged to watch students continue on their journey, a journey which has multiple facets: "academically, athletically, artistically, musically, but most of all morally and socially in this remarkable place." These are words, but I know that for the community of Saint James, these are not just words, but rather a statement of truth and a call to action. "We do this, of course, in community, so that all of us, teachers and students together, are challenged to live and learn in relationship with each other, respecting and helping each other, bridging our differences and finding our similarities, just as real community requires us to do."


And, further, Father Dunnan notes that the parents of students have given the faculty a gift, "the gift of helping on the journey, challenging and insisting, caring and encouraging, instructing and explaining in all the wonderful ways which happen in this place."

Saint James, like many small boarding schools, has a strong sense of self and place and purpose, and this is where I am called to serve: a school that is community, that has a sense of self and place and purpose, a community that values learning not just of the academic variety, a place that actively works to be a community.

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