Founders

SMUS-Views-Bob

We have a responsibility to both the past and the future. From the past, we are entrusted with the legacy of the school. To the future, our responsibility is to fulfill the vision.

As I write this, on Thursday afternoon, we are a few hours away from honouring the combined spirits of our two original schools: University School and St. Michael’s School. Several times a year I refer to the founders of these two schools, usually commenting that back in 1906 and 1910 respectively they would have found it hard to picture the school of today. Nor would we, here now,  do any better. Every June, at the Leavers’ Chapel Service – the last Chapel service for our graduating class – I always invite the grads to think of our founders, and of our oldest alumni, and to cast their imaginations seventy years or a hundred years into the future, and try to picture the school as it might exist then. Impossible.

University School was founded by three men – Barnacle, Bolton and Harvey – and St. Michael’s School was founded by Kyrle Symons. Tonight, at our Founders’ Day Dinner we will honour those men, and we will honour the efforts of many people who have supported their original vision in the past few decades: specifically, Governors of the School, and those who have made donations to endow scholarships and bursaries for students who otherwise would not be able to attend the school.

It is no flaw or weakness, in us or in our original founders, not to be able to fill in the detail of the School’s future, seventy or a hundred years hence. What is impressive, however, is the power of the original principles on which the School was founded, which have endured at its core, and which have nourished an organic and living institution. Even in the Depression, in the 1930’s, when the School opened some years with a dozen or fifteen students, and teachers worked for no more than room and board, the purposes at the core of the School kept it alive. It has only gotten stronger and more permanent over the years. This is the legacy we have inherited, and judging by the work and generosity of those who currently hold the School in trust or contribute to its future with palpable support, future generations will also be able to look on us with gratitude. The legacy and the vision: the past and the future.

On such occasions it is especially appropriate to use the word, Vivat!

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Bob Snowden
Bob Snowden was Head of School at St. Michaels University School for 22 years, from 1995-2017.

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