Last week, SAPA hosted health educator Charis Denison for a parent education night, preceded by a reception in the Commons. Charis has been working with the school for a very long time and sees our students several times a year; our students trust her and she is beloved. After chatting, we all loaded up our plates and headed to the library for an intimate and extremely worthwhile discussion on “Helping our Teens Through Difficulty: Where Do We Go From Here?” On our way upstairs, Charis pulled me aside to say, “You know, a lot of schools build something like the Commons hoping to have it positively shape their school culture. At SA, the Commons is an expression of the culture that is already there, one of community and connectedness.”
Every day now, we see that culture in action in the Commons, and we have fresh opportunities to be keenly aware of our community and connection. We are nicely jammed in together, eating delicious food and chatting. Today, for example, I hopped tables, sitting with several different configurations of students and staffulty. We’ve smoothed out some of the wrinkles of the serving line so that there is now a luxurious sense of not only having time to eat but to truly visit with each other during our very busy days--a very delicious treat, indeed.
Of course, the aftermath of the fires is still very much on our minds, and we know that some adults and children are finding it hard to focus at times. I think you know to be in touch with us so that we can accommodate such students’ needs as they change over the coming weeks and months.
I believe this feeling of connection also flows from the many ways we were all there for each other during the fires. I heard from many families, including grandparents, that the daily bulletin from the school during the fires provided a steady and constant feeling of connection. One mom wrote to say that her family on the East Coast appreciated the updates, too. Even though they were so far away, they felt like they were “an extension of the network of caring that exists at SA.” The school is here for you as an anchor. But that’s only because of your ongoing support of us. We were really grateful to be able to be a hub of connection and a source of stability and continuity for our families; in fact, we hope to always be that.
During the fires, we suspended all of the usual school activities, including the Annual Fund, which usually kicks off in October. And now that we are getting back to our normal day-to-day routine, it’s time for us to resume this activity as well. Because the Annual Fund really is the network of support from our wider community that keeps us going.
We will be getting Annual Fund Appeal letters out to you between now and Thanksgiving, and we hope to hear from you soon. Your letters will include all remittance information and details. Please remember that a gift made before December 31, 2017 is tax-deductible on this year’s tax returns.
I want to share an email I received one of our students during the fires:
“While these last couple of days have been heartbreaking and disastrous, they have really forced me to put things into perspective, and also allowed me a lot of time to reflect on the things I am grateful for in greater depth. On Monday, I found myself telling my mom that I would rather lose our home to the fire than our school. I think I shocked myself by saying this a little bit, but I came to realize all the reasons that made it so true. SA is a home, not only to me but to so many other students....I felt like if I lost it, my life would feel so empty. With more reflection I became less sad, because as cheesy as it sounds, I realized SA's beauty lies not only in the campus, but in the community. And while SA is fortunate to have one of the most beautiful high school campuses I have ever seen, I am hopeful that even if our campus doesn't survive, our beautiful community will, and that makes me happy.”
Well, Grace, we did survive! Thank you again for that beautiful email. And thank you all for your ongoing support.