One of the wonders of school life is the way in which each new year is simultaneously entirely fresh and utterly familiar. As I write this, we are just completing our first five day week of the 2021-22 school year, and already, children are stepping (or, for our younger children, skipping!) naturally and happily into the routines that shape their days. Along with the comforting familiarity of these days, there is a wonderful energy fed by the spirit of new beginnings and a renewed appreciation of what it means to come together in community at Park.
This spirit was particularly evident on Friday, September 10 when over 400 members of the community gathered in the sunshine for Picnic at Park. For many of us, it was the first time we had seen fellow community members face to face, unmasked, since March 2020. It was truly wonderful to see all the smiles.
The next day, Saturday, September 11, was a day on which our nation took pause to reflect on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The events of that date continue to resonate through so many aspects of our lives and for some of us ever so deeply. As various speakers at commemorative events around the country noted, that day saw heroes rising in large ways and small to help others, and families, cities, and the country joined in collective embrace of our deepest core value: the essential need to come together to care for one another.
The joy we find being in community here at Park lightens and lifts us all — and while it’s easier to appreciate the pleasures we find in that coming together, this last year has also reminded us that these core values are what keep us going together when circumstances are challenging. It is when we remember and appreciate that we are part of something larger than ourselves; when we commit ourselves to doing well by and for that larger whole; when we prioritize kindness and care; and, when we rise to be our best selves for one another.
I see programmatic excellence and achievement every day at Park. I see teachers going above and beyond in service to our students, and I see students thriving in the curiosity and inquiry their journey reveals. Yet what’s most exciting about Park is not that academic excellence happens, but that it happens in such a deeply humane way. Our motto, “Simplicity and Sincerity,” reminds us that when we get right down to the core, it’s clear that what matters most isn’t all that complicated — we are a community committed to encouraging children to reach their highest potential.
As we set off together on this part of the journey, into this year that is so full of opportunity alongside uncertainty and the ongoing need for social and civic growth, please join me in centering that embracing kindness, simplicity, and sincerity.