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Craig’s Blog

com·mu·ni·ty

noun 

a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

 

By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

Last week: I mostly walked from appointment to appointment, my leather-soled shoes radiating cold; drafts from leaky-doored coffee shops never let me warm up despite umpteen hot drinks through the week, but the chill was somehow exhilarating.

I was in the city to talk to parents and alumni in my first year at Brewster. Over breakfast, coffee, lunch, and dinner in restaurants, apartments, and offices, I talked, listened, and asked question after question. What made your family look at Brewster? What was school like before coming to Brewster? How has Brewster worked?

Anyone eavesdropping on these serial conversations would have thought I was a broken record and that there was some internal coherence to the superficially-varied responses.

Continue reading “com·mu·ni·ty”

Here’s to Winter

By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

Pre-Christmas warm weather and green grass were supplanted in just a few days around the New Year with a crust of snow and clear, chilly air. Students migrated back on Monday to open water on the lake; ice came just yesterday in the inlet, and, early this morning, I could see an icy finger extending across the bay.

As with all molecules in the system that is our universe, water tends toward entropy – disorder. That’s why we can swim in it and drink it. Yet on the lake, today, anti-entropic forces are coming to rule as single water molecules bond with countless others in the big freeze underway. They are, literally, slowing down, crashing together, expanding, floating en masse. Soon, huts will get dragged onto the ice and bundled fishermen will auger holes, jigging for lethargic fish, and the rest of us will turn our faces from the west wind blowing across the bay.
Continue reading “Here’s to Winter”

Generosity

By Craig Gemmell and Nancy Hughes

 

Lord House, Saturday Morning 12/12

Twenty sleepy students from Trey Whitfield School and their equally sleepy Brewster hosts streamed in at 9 a.m. for breakfast and companionship. Again this year, Trey Whitfield fifth through eighth grade students came to Brewster to visit overnight in the dorms, tour our campus, attend a basketball tournament and clinic, and explore Wolfeboro. A few students also interviewed with our Admission Office. The time these young people spent on campus was all just a small part of a remarkable, abiding relationship Brewster Academy has enjoyed with the Trey Whitfield School for over a quarter of a century.

Continue reading “Generosity”

Book Club

By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

Twenty some-odd members of Brewster’s faculty and staff, young and old, gathered over coffee and cookies on Wednesday evening to discuss Malcolm Gladwell’s recent David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. Continue reading “Book Club”

Taking the Plunge

By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

Kids are back! Winter term has begun and thus the academic slate has been wiped clean, winter sports have started, and campus has been readied for the weather to come. We await snow as we settle into the long haul of the middle of the year and simultaneously start the sprint toward the December break. Continue reading “Taking the Plunge”

Gratitude

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.

Continue reading “Gratitude”

A Higher Purpose

By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

I awoke to blue skies after a week of mostly grey clouds and rain to realize that I could see the lake through barren trees. Late fall has arrived, exams on the horizon, and the athletic awards are just a few hours away.

What, I wonder, to say about the end of the fall? The end of the term, the end of the season?

What might I presume to know worthy of sharing to a sea of kids who will be sitting in the Smith Center at 10 a.m.? This is a question that wracked my brain as I moved back-and-forth to meetings in Boston and the vicinity for the better part of the week.

Perhaps this: I was green with envy watching Bobcat Nation in this, my first fall. Green because SO MANY coaches and athletes had the glow about them that only comes from practicing and competing with friends — the very glow that I sure felt but took for granted when I was deeply involved in fall sports from the late 1970s until last fall as a competitor and then coach.

And I was green with envy because now I’m just another sedentary spectator and gain satisfaction only vicariously.

But I don’t want them to get me wrong. I was thrilled about so many moments as a fan this fall, and there were some great moments. In my first game as spectator in early September, watching freshman Anya Found score the first goal in her first game on the Girls’ Varsity Soccer team; or watching Senior Marina Jozokos score the winning goal in OT, after missing in a great bid at the buzzer a few minutes before, in one her last games on our turf. These and so many other great moments in the Nation will stay with me forever.

I would want them to understand that I’m green with envy because anyone who played or ran or rowed or sailed with intensity this fall knows the deep satisfaction of stretching for the sake of the team, the joy of growing through hard work, the sheer pleasure of the physicality. But they might not appreciate yet the transcendence of it all.

Transcendence. That’s it. That’s what I’d like them to understand.

Practicing, competing with peers, guided by a caring adult, has transcendent effects on a life. It has on many. It sure has on mine.

I was a gangly, shy kid who found voice and purpose through sports, found deep and abiding friendships through sports, found my deepest self through it all. Sports allowed me to find the athlete within, the student within, the community member within. Sports, more than any other single endeavor, put me on the path that led me to today.

I suspect the same is true for SO many who coach, and I bet they know it.

And yet I realized this in full only this very fall, when I found myself sitting in cars or meetings most afternoons while they practiced, among the spectators instead of on the field or the sidelines as coach since I’ve migrated to Wolfeboro.

Perhaps the best message I can convey is a simple one: being able to train, play, and compete has a higher purpose than merely filling time and increasing physical health. It can shape a life. Again, it can have transcendent effects. I’m sure of this.

I’ll say this to them: take a moment to be grateful to your families, your coaches, your teammates, and your school for providing you with such an opportunity. Don’t take this opportunity for granted for a moment; hold your memories close.

For sooner or later, life will take you at least one degree of separation away from this particular sort of joy. It happens. I know.

And I’ll say this: gratitude should fill you. Thank your coaches, parents, teammates, fans. They’ve made this fall all the richer for their investment. Drink deep of this and it’ll sustain you for a lifetime.

Cecil E. Wentworth

By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

I met Mr. Cecil E. Wentworth on the steps of the Academic Building on Monday.

Mr. Cecil E. Wentworth. His name alone sounds from another time. Continue reading “Cecil E. Wentworth”

Let’s Talk

By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

I was startled a few afternoons ago.

I was walking my dog quietly along the drive down to the lake, exchanging pleasantries with students and chatting with those who stopped to pet the dog. Then a boy whipped by on a hoverboard while talking on his iPhone, one ear bud dangling out of his hoodie. A non sequitur. Or was it? Continue reading “Let’s Talk”

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