Dear Calhoun Community,
We've made it to the final week of the school year! I've been stuck these last few weeks trying to sum up this 125th year in Calhoun's history – a year that was at once celebratory, disorienting, challenging and joyful. It defies easy characterization.
Speaking with community members over the last month – at our anniversary Benefit, our bustling Carnival, and at last week's well-attended Alumni Reunion – many people asked me, "How can you plan for a period like this?" The short answer, of course, is no planning exercise could have anticipated the circumstances of recent years.
This month marks the completion of my fifth year as Head of School. Almost half of that tenure has been under the cloud of the pandemic. It has been bookended by horrific tragedies at Parkland and Uvalde. It has intersected a challenging and also inspirational national period of racial reckoning. My Upper School elective American Politics has, in successive years, grappled with a presidential impeachment trial, a contested election, and the outbreak of war in Europe. It's tempting to feel overwhelmed.
And then I spend time with our students.
When I first arrived at Calhoun, our current kindergartners were still crawling around their living rooms. This week, I visited the expert book publishing party organized by Tillie and Camille's kindergarten cluster, the Cool Superheroes. These kindergartners presented illustrated "How to…" guides they'd been developing in class. Offerings ranged from "Breakdancing is Amazing" to "Dosa Making is Fun" to "How to Pet a Dog" (this final one could have been subtitled "I Want a Dog!"). The books were charming, and the authors were poised and engaged as they presented them.
These students are unburdened by knowledge of how "abnormal" this year has been or expectations about how this year was *supposed* to look. They've only ever gone to school in the era of masks and rapid tests. They can –– and do –– approach every day with the excitement of learning something new and the thrill of sharing their passions with others.
This summer –– which starts for our students in just a few days –– let us all try to follow our kindergartners' leads and live in the moment. Encourage your students to learn something new (maybe not breakdancing, but something) and set a similar goal for yourself. Nurture a growth mindset and encourage your children to make this a summer of exploration, growth and joy.
I hate to give advice that I'm not prepared to take, so I've got a project in mind for myself. I'll report on my progress at the end of the summer.
I cannot let us head into summer without once again saluting our extraordinary faculty, staff and administrators. Somehow, they managed yet again this year to filter out the distractions of being at the epicenter of national debates about health, safety, politics and culture and kept their focus on our students, every day. I am grateful to them for their dedication, talent and resilience, and I hope you will join me in wishing them a restorative and rewarding summer.