As I sat down to write this last View of the year, I struggled with the way to contain and encapsulate the wide range of experiences and feelings we are living with as a community this week. It is the last week of school, a time to celebrate and in particular to acknowledge our seniors and we are eager to share with you here the view of our triumphant seniors as they processed through the courtyard garden these past two days as they were awarded their diplomas. And it is also a time of upheaval in our community and our nation, and I feel compelled to tell you of the conversations and work we’ve been doing this week sparked by the police killing of George Floyd and the ensuing national protests. Because each of these is important and deserve their moment, I will break this View into two parts, as we did for Community Meeting this week.
Dot Kowal, our Interim Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, has met with groups of students and staffulty--both general groups and groups specifically for our students of color and staffulty of color. Staffulty members Cassidy Brown, Laila McClay, and Lin Yeu helped support and facilitate. In the “rooms,” we heard deep sadness, grief, and frustration. We also heard resolve. Resolve to deepen these conversations, to look closely at ourselves and our school, to create more robust professional development on white privilege and racism at every level in our school. We heard the wish for all of our students to experience our Race, Class, and Gender curriculum, where students read, reflect, and challenge themselves and each other.
In order to address the tension inherent in this week of finals, national and community distress, and end-of-year celebrations, we divided Wednesday’s final community meeting of the year into two parts. Lani Frazier invited us to join her in a moment of silence after sharing her personal story of activism and Lauren Anderson, ‘20, read the powerful Op-Ed piece that she wrote for the Race, Class and Gender Newsletter. We stand in solidarity with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). Systemic racism must be dismantled and we encourage everyone—students, staffulty, families, alumni—to speak up and take action against injustice and white supremacy. There are many ways to be an ally in the struggle against racism, inequality, and injustice. To support our community members in fighting for change, we will be sharing resources for anti-racist action and education in the Courier, our DEI Resource Board, and on our social media accounts (please follow us on Facebook or Instagram). This google doc provides information on protest safety, anti-racist nonprofits, recommended reading, and more. Stay safe, stand up, and speak out. #blacklivesmatter
The last three days have also been very full of love and gratitude. On Wednesday, during our final Community Meeting of the year, we were treated to slideshows for the 9th, 10th, and 11th grades and heard about the rousting by the 9th grade of all other classes in this year’s Coyote Cup. The hardworking Yearbook editors, Sophie Weil ‘20, Addy Flanagan ‘20, Emma Hartley ‘20, named their successors, thanked their unflagging staffulty advisors, Florence Rink and Pam Vincent, and revealed this year’s theme (Postcards) and dedication. While, to be honest, I wasn’t totally surprised that the yearbook was dedicated to their departing founding Head of School, I was blown away by the beauty of the dedication and the love I felt, to which I say, right back at ya. Later that evening, we revelled in the Senior See Ya Soon tour de force our graduates produced, and we find hope in their talent, energy, ebullience, and passion.
And then there was the awarding of the diplomas which took place over 9 hours each day on Thursday and today. Ellie Dwight and I received each senior, one at a time, along with their families. We met in the Guild & Commons gardens, which Nancy Metzger-Carter and our facilities team brought to its peak of summer gorgeousness. The arrival circle and path through the garden were lined with the traditional flags, and the tributes, as always, were beautiful, personal, and heartfelt. It wasn’t a graduation, exactly, but a more intimate celebration of each student’s journey through their high school years. Although it was certainly different from every other commencement ceremony I have attended in the past, it held its own particular beauty and joy.
I want to dedicate this last View to you, the class of 2020. I cried pretty much all the way your Senior See Ya Soon. It was brilliant. We’ve marched through this final strange year together and I’m so grateful to have had a moment of connection with each of you and your families yesterday and today. You have taken everything that SA had to offer and, in return, you’ve offered SA so much of yourselves. We are so proud of you: you are creative, ethical, and committed to learning; you are engaged with your communities. You are the leaders this world needs. I salute you and thank you. And I will miss you. Congratulations, Class of 2020.