By Craig Gemmell
Head of School
Tuesday was a day of emotion here on campus. Exams started. Kids seemed quieter at lunch, more focused, tired. All of us who spend time with kids in this little hive seemed weary, too. In all of our dronings we were buoyed by the imminent break. Family. Food. Rest. All coming.
Tuesday night we had our first community dinner of the year. The dining hall staff’s majesty gave us much for which to be grateful – a traditional Thanksgiving meal. We cheered for the food and those who prepared it, feasted, enjoyed each other, and then wrote thank-you notes of our own – mine, to my sister, was mailed Wednesday. The food was spectacular; the spirits high.
We made our way out to Lamb Green and many of us gathered on Dohrmann Circle for a vigil to hold witness to some ineffable things. It was cold; kids were grasping each other, quiet.
To what did we hold witness?
We came together ostensibly to be vigilant – awake – to the world in light of France’s suffering, the world’s suffering. But we didn’t dwell much on the why. We stood in the dry chill to hear Jenna Golden, Ally Churchill, and Andy Campbell sing Imagine; we were silent; we heard one sentiment expressed in eight languages:
may every sunrise hold more promise and every sunset hold more peace for us all.
Sitting, thinking, I’m left with a thought.
In this, a time of countercurrents, in the wake of terror and heading toward the great American holiday of Thanksgiving, I get more so than ever why Brewster and schools like it exist: to steep students in a community in which we all learn to work it out despite our frailties, vanities, differences. The academic work matters: it builds skill and discipline and confidence. But the real power of Brewster comes in the marriage of burgeoning intellectual capacity with equal measures of humanity and hope, qualities gained only by living together in a community.
And I’m left with a hope.
As we are cast to the four compass points over break and celebrate being together with family, friends, I do hope that parents delight in the ways kids have been transformed to yet better versions of their wonderful selves in these past months, knowing that it will be theirs to make the world a safer, more just place.
And I’m brimming with gratitude.
Gratitude for being able to work daily with such fine kids, such devoted adults at such an extraordinary school. Thank you, parents, for sharing your children with us.