In the life of schools, summer is deceptively quiet. A great deal of work happens, even in years, unlike this one, when we do not have major construction projects underway. There is always something to update, refresh, or repair. The ritual of summer work seems to underscore an essential truth about beginnings: every beginning, if it’s to be a good one, rests on thoughtful preparation, growth, the application of lessons learned, and the intentional effort to begin well, begin better, and begin more strongly than before. And so, here we are in September, and we begin.
We are excited to return to our brand new classrooms completed over the summer. Students arrived to new science and art classrooms in our new STEAM corridor, and to a Maker wing now expanded to include the woodshop. Brick walls have been transformed to walls of windows overlooking Larz Anderson Park. Grade 7 students can enjoy a bright Collaboration space and hallway, and a newly-created project workplace on the Lower Division corridor will allow creative work to spill beyond the classrooms. Our long-awaited turf field is ready for action.
Even as all this work was underway, Park’s senior leadership team spent a good deal of time reflecting on our aspirations for the 2022-23 school year, and the theme that emerged as central to our vision was the idea of spirit and community. “Spirit” means many things. There’s the “school spirit” represented by the wearing of Park green, the cheers from the sidelines at a soccer game. There is “community spirit,” which captures the special kind of coming together that’s so essential to Park’s identity. And there is also the sense of “the spirit” of things – the essence, the core values, the underlying identity that supports who we are and the decisions we make. The first points to what we do and the second, to doing it together. The third, though, is the most powerful, because it’s intrinsic to who we are – who we choose to be as individuals, as a collective, and for each other. It’s the ways in which we commit to what matters most.
In returning this month to a fully robust on-campus program, all three of these aspects of spirit resonate strongly – and were joyously demonstrated when we came together for Picnic at Park. I am always inspired by the way Park families come together each fall after months apart, and even more so by the warmth extended to families joining Park for the first time. We were so excited to inaugurate our turf field at this year’s picnic, and the way children and families rushed to the new field and immediately made it their own surpassed our hopes and expectations. Before we could even take in the scene visually, there were pick up soccer and corn hole games underway, and cartwheels being turned at center field. Friends gathered, conversations gave way to more conversations and laughter, and within 30 minutes it was as if this marvelous facility had always been at the heart of the Park experience, bringing us together in community. We couldn’t have hoped for more.
We all know that a school – that The Park School – is more than its buildings. Yet we also realize that school communities best thrive when their spaces honor them and the experience they will have there. Beautiful spaces encourage us to rise to our better selves, and the community we build together is all the stronger for it.
I couldn’t be more excited about what the Park community can accomplish at this moment, with new spaces, new faces, and an underlying spirit that is fully committed to moving forward as our best selves. We can’t wait to get back to the important work of seeing our students boldly, confidently on their way.