There is something about this time of year that inspires us to reflect on the past, and particularly the year that is about to end. Part of that comes from holiday traditions and the yearly rituals that inevitably bring back heartfelt memories and meaningful experiences we have had, and part of that is that this time of year brings us together and reminds us how important human connection is to making ourselves feel whole and fulfilled.
One of our treasured December traditions at SA is our Holiday Assembly, and as I looked out today at the crowd of faces in the gym today I was filled with gratitude. There are so many things for us to be thankful for — the chance to gather together, for our warm and positive community, and for the spirit and resilience that has inspired us all — students, staffulty, and families — to bring the best of ourselves to the school we all love. This is also a moment to reflect on where we have traveled as a school over the past year, to take stock of where we are now, and to look ahead to where we will be in the coming months and years ahead.
The present at SA could not be more exciting. Our campus is buzzing, quite literally, with action: from the sounds of construction as the Community and Performing Arts Center rapidly develops and the beautiful music at last Friday’s Winter Concert to the cheers from fans at our winter sporting events and the laughter from students as they pass between classes and exams. While we are all ready for a well-deserved winter break, we are thrilled to return in early January for our first international passport trips in three years and an unforgettable eight days of exploration during our first January Intersession over that same time period. I cannot think of a better way to start the new year and a new semester!
This end of the year reflection also inspires us to think about and imagine the year ahead. And I could not be more excited about what we have to look forward to in 2023. We will continue our year-long strategic planning process, digging into the extremely useful data and reflections collected in our surveys and interviews, and we invite all students, families, and staffulty members to participate in our all-campus Community Day and Saturday, February 11 (please mark your calendars to be on campus with us that day). As we launch into the next phase of strategic planning, I eagerly anticipate the ways in which our committee will use what we have learned to chart the next course and direction of an incredible future for our school.
And this time next year we will put the final touches on our new Community Performing Arts Center. At last week’s Community Meeting, team members from the DPR Construction team updated our entire community on the project, answered engaging questions from our students, and showed this video
that details some of the ways in which we imagine using this new space. They also included a simulation video
that shows a full rendering of the construction project from the first days of construction to final completion. In January, we will all have an opportunity to sign one of the beams and then watch it be placed as the final beam on the rooftop. I know we all eagerly anticipate future Community Meetings, speakers, performances, and assemblies in this beautiful space, and we all look forward to brainstorming the ways in which we can use the building to invite our broader community to share in the experience of being on campus.
We are also working toward improvements in our athletics facilities, with budgeted projects that will expand the seating on the north side of our field and allow for a significantly improved fan experience as well as a fundraising campaign to build tennis courts, a sport court, baseball facilities, restrooms, and even a concession area on the south side of Ziemer field. These are such important projects for our students and they will allow us to utilize that part of campus in new ways. Our hardworking and talented student-athletes will take such great pride in these new developments, and you know I will be one of the loudest voices cheering from the new field seating when it is completed!
As we head into the new year, there will surely be the usual discussion that stresses new year’s resolutions. Yet there has been a recent trend moving away from resolutions — which are so often made to be broken! — instead encouraging people to set intentions for the year ahead. An intention is less like a wish and more like a goal, informed by values and by meaning instead of just a desire for an end result. It is something that resonates with me, and I suggest we add to it. As we cross the threshold into the new year and look ahead, let’s all take some time to set intentions for SA and really envision what we would like our future to look like, both for ourselves as individuals and also for our school and community.
Happy Holidays and Happy Winter Break!