In a number of settings recently I have talked to students, or staff, or parents about one phrase in our Mission and its consequences for us: Our School seeks the excellence in all of us. I talked about it last night and the night before to Junior and Middle School parents in turn, and today it was a theme in Senior School Chapel. The reason it is a suitable theme, whether applied to students in Kindergarten or Grade Twelve, is that it runs through all we do at SMUS.
The point of the phrase is that we do believe that all students have their particular excellence, a collection of strengths and passions and qualities that create their special excellence. Next, we believe the point of education is to create opportunities for students to discover this excellence – the combination of passions and skills – and to explore it and pursue it. The key word here is “opportunities”. At this time of year the possibilities at School open up like a peacock fan, promising and attractive. But choices have to be made, opportunities grabbed, and that exploration of what might become a student’s passion begins.
We do talk about excellence at the School, and what excellence means. The pursuit of one’s potential is at the heart of our definition. Passion plays an important part in it. We think that it is important to have examples of high attainment in programs or achievements at the School. We also think that to pursue a passion to the exclusion of other, balancing experiences will not bring a very enriching result: an excellent education should have breadth. A child is not a fixed being; students experience, and change, and grow into their possibilities. Hence the opportunities our School lays out. Seize them.