All summer, there is not much noise on the Richmond Rd. campus – apart from the occasional siren on its way to the Jubilee Hospital, and sporadic chatter of students in our summer programs. The School still looks like a school, unmistakably so. Those visiting students in our classrooms, the dining hall, music building and quieter nooks are solid reminders of our purpose, but their role here seems to be not so much to fill our walls and halls as to keep them resuscitated, on life support for the full pulse that flows through the place when it is full.
The transformation in the first week of September is dramatic, like the start of some big soccer game when the whistle finally blows for the kick off. There is nothing gradual about it.
It is often said about education that it is about the future. The truth in this statement is apparent: do we ever see such a collection of promise, individual and collective, as we do when the school year begins?
The ruck of daily life at school leaves behind these abstractions pretty quickly. Books are bought, assignments sent home, courses changed, and meals eaten. We discover that one or two things are going to be harder than we thought. In speaking to a group of parents on Tuesday after they dropped off their sons and daughters to boarding – a group of parents from as far away as China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, to name a few countries – I observed that they were giving their offspring an opportunity to remember all their lives, a transforming opportunity. I told them that I myself had been a boarding student, so I knew what it was like from the student’s point of view. I told them I had also been a boarding parent, having one son who went away to boarding school, so I knew what it was like to be in their shoes. I went on to say that it will not be all sweetness and light for their sons and daughters, but despite any hardships they encounter, tearful nights, disagreements with friends, and other difficulties – despite these challenges and in some cases because of them – their boarding education would be one of the best experiences of their lives.
So here we go.