From the Interim Rector: A Sense of Renewal, Optimism, and Resolve
Autumn has arrived here in Millville, accompanied by cooler temperatures and a spectacular display of fall colors. For those of you who reside permanently in New England, the changing colors of the trees may provoke only a “ho-hum” response or a mild irritation at the return of “leaf-peepers,” tourists who descend on the region in October. For me, however, the arrival of autumn provokes only amazement. I had forgotten how breathtaking the trees can be. Every day finds me walking about, slightly stunned by the beauty of the grounds and the turn of the season.
As you know, I returned to St. Paul’s School – and to New England – after a 24-year gap, one that took me to New York City and then to California – a place where autumn bears a strong resemblance to both spring and summer. Returning to New Hampshire after such a long separation has been a journey of joy; I have been staggered not just by the natural beauty of the SPS grounds, but also by the compelling and invigorating programs that now define and shape the St. Paul’s School experience. Recently, for example, I was walking by the Fine Arts Building, when I noticed students in the glass studio. From outdoors, I could see the bright yellow flames of the furnace that melts the glass. I was drawn in to watch the students shape the molten glass into sculptures, and I was transfixed by the quality of instruction as well as the careful and deliberate methodology the students employed.
Equally enthralling classes are everywhere on campus. I have walked through the Lindsay Center for Mathematics and Science and observed our engineering and robotics students navigating their lab. I have listened to humanities students grapple with existential questions. I have encountered Chinese language students in the Schoolhouse, seeking out extra help in the hour before Chapel. I have listened to teachers, patiently offering additional help to burgeoning writers. I have been quite amazed by all the classes I have seen and by the talented and dedicated instructors who guide our students in their intellectual journeys. I also have been impressed with the quality of students who now populate St. Paul’s. They have received me, the Interim Rector, with warmth, welcome, and authenticity. At the most recent Rectory Open House, three Fourth Formers – one of whom was new – regaled me with stories about their favorite teachers (as well as details about how – and when – Cricket Holiday was to unfold). I was utterly charmed by their forthright and unselfconscious manner.
Finally, I have been delighted to be reintroduced to the traditions that punctuate our lives together here at St. Paul’s School, traditions such as Chapel, Seated Meal, First Night Service, and, of course, Cricket Holiday. These events provide the bridge to our past and a sense that we are connected to those who came before us. The traditions have been balanced by new events, such as our “SPS in Action” weekend, a gathering of alumni and form representatives convened at the end of September, while school was in session, which offered a chance to experience SPS today.
Thus, together, we launch the new school year with a sense of renewal, optimism, and resolve. Autumn inspires in teachers and students a fresh set of goals and aspirations. Autumn sparks new growth in all of us at SPS, even as the natural world prepares for dormancy. We are ready for the intellectual, personal, and physical challenges that lie ahead, and we face those challenges with resolve, good humor, and camaraderie. I hope that, as you leaf through these pages, you will be able to discern that optimism and renewal.