We live in divisive times, and there are many issues and forces at play that amplify these divisions. Unfortunately, it is often easy to allow ourselves to get caught up and taken for a ride via our mass culture, as we are exposed daily to the dull discourse and predictable talking points that media outlets, political interest groups, and Facebook provide. Beneath the banal banter of our media, daily crime reports, and political infighting, however, real accomplishment occurs that often gets overlooked.
Daily life in the real world consists of worthwhile work that brings tangible results to people’s lives. Magic happens at school on the playground, in the science labs, classrooms, and practice fields. Our children are growing every day despite the 24-Hour news cycle and Twitterverse (Is that even a thing?).
I am sure you have heard that Middle School Aspire scores increased this year across the board in every subject and grade. Did you see Annie Jr., or have you happened to catch a girls’ soccer match this fall? What about the Lower School halftime show last week? Our community is thriving, and growth is occurring on campus.
We are making strides, not by accident, but through intentional reading, critical thinking, creative writing, and deliberate academic, artistic and athletic practice. This is the work that builds personal discipline and stronger teams. Our students are being challenged and being held accountable for clearly communicated expectations. We continue to daily teach respect for others and the value of striving for a goal larger than self. It is not that we have our hands over our eyes or our heads in the sand; we just choose to roll up our sleeves and get to work rather than engage in competing social agendas, fighting over vaccines, or shouting each other down over the drama du jour.
I have found it personally helpful to turn down the noise of the increasing irrationality of the news of the day. I prefer to read history, biography, and the Bible rather than contemporary news magazines or get caught up in the vortex of vapidity that is our 21st Century media. I read and watch enough to stay abreast and follow the narrative but try to avoid the gravitational pull of the propagandists and stay “above the fray,” and it is most definitely a constant struggle for me.
I am so proud of our faculty, staff, and students who collectively strive for a cause and those who are so busy pouring themselves into others and their work that they haven’t responded to the message that the world is falling apart. We are certainly challenged by the realities of the pandemic and the concrete economic and political issues of the day. But here at USJ, we are focused on growing people. Period. I would challenge all of us to concentrate our attention beneath the surface, keep our composure, and continue to serve one another. We would not want to get distracted by yet another Twitter war and find we’ve missed the joy of learning and progress that can be applied to make a real difference in the world. Let us continue to love one another and stay focused on the task at hand.
Head of School
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