Dear Parents and Alumni,
In a recent memo to the faculty and staff, I mentioned a Garrison Keillor piece about Midwestern good-byes. They begin in the parlor and move to the hall, then the front door, the porch, the gate, etc. Such is a headmaster’s good-bye when departure is announced fifteen months ahead of the fact. Therefore, with apologies for prolonging this, here is my final written farewell.
Though I have many memories of my first year, two really stand out. At the opening convocation, a new event, the entire school gathered in the gym. As I stepped to the lectern and looked out at roughly 1,000 faces, I was a bit in awe- this crowd (many had never seen me and most had not met me) was prepared to listen to me. It was humbling and also inspiring. I read a children’s book, Matthew Wheelock’s Wall. Its point was that in a good wall the little stones support the big ones and the big support the little. The same is true of schools like St.Paul’s- the little children support the big and the big support the little. I have read a children’s story at every convocation since, with a message that spans the ages of the audience. In return, this spring, the Upper School wrote a story, Mr. Reid’s Snow Day and read it to me at a Chapel. I got the message!
The second memory is of my investiture. On the scheduled date, we had a snowstorm and had to cancel (proof that I did call snow days). When it was held later, I received a gift from each major constituency of the School. After receiving the Middle School gift, I turned to be greeted by three Upper School boys. Knowing my discomfort for this “coronation” event, they presented a hockey stick for a scepter, a letter jacket for a robe, and a paper crown, which I was asked to don in recognition of my new role. Thoughtful, clever, a bit irreverent, exactly right for keeping things in perspective and keeping me humble.
The past 11 years have provided many more, wonderful memories: events, plays, championships, concerts, campaigns, projects, but most of all people, big and small. When Ann and I left boarding school twenty-five years ago, we were particularly saddened to leave Ian, a boy who lived in our dorm with whom we were very close. Though sad, I said to Ann that if there were no Ian’s, no students we were pained to separate from, we had stayed too long.
As we leave St. Paul’s we are thinking of many "Ian’s," and wish them all the best in their years at this School, which we have loved.