E Pluribus Unum
Standing at the front of Fenn's meeting hall just thirty minutes into the brand-new school year last Friday morning, I looked out at the faces of our 333 Fenn boys gathered with our teachers and staff. It was our first All School Meeting of the year. The time ahead of us as a school community lay before us with such clean promise—like the dew on the Meeting Hall green on that late summer morning beckoning us to the start of an unspoiled day. A buzz of conversation ran throughout the hall, enveloping the fifty new fourth grade boys seated in the front rows, our twenty-six ninth graders in their senior seats along the walls, and all of those boys in between, accompanied by the faculty and staff who dedicate their lives to them. Awaiting the meeting's start, they beamed a collective glow of energy, hopefulness, and camaraderie.
It strikes me each year in those first moments of our opening meeting that we as a community embody the mission and aspiration of Fenn. Already we have taken our first steps to know each other—boy and boy, adult and boy. We adults embrace and rededicate ourselves to the mission to foster each boy’s growth as it is borne of his own singular talents. And each of these boys with his unique future is embraced in a school community that calls him to step beyond himself to care for and about others.
In our opening moment of silent reflection, the hall grows still as the boys and adults gather their thoughts to consider the promise of the new school year for each of us. We consider, too, the responsibility and power that each of us holds in our hands to make Fenn, or to fail to make Fenn, the school that we all desire it to be. I remind the boys that each and every day of this school year they will personally recreate Fenn—Sua Sponte—from the moment of their arrival to the time of their departure by the quality of their individual presence, attitude, and actions, small and large. Each boy each day will create some piece of the mosaic of our community.
All vital schools honor the balance between the needs of the individual student and the fabric of the larger community. As with most educational endeavors, striking and living this balance is inherently an art and not a science. Every child matters deeply and is at the center of our efforts as teachers. And, at once, the collective good of everyone in our community equally matters. We call boys to live the ideals of our school by the work they and we do to ensure the collective good. This call to community ensures that the rich and expansive opportunities that Fenn provides boys are not reduced to personal indulgence or entitlement, thereby diminishing their growth of character. It is instead a means of elevating themselves while serving others.
In their lives beyond Fenn, the boys of today will be called to be responsible and able individuals who will meet the needs of family, community, nation, and world. Their lives will be defined by who they are and will be measured by how they affect and serve others. For this time in their young and emerging lives, Fenn boys, each on his own terms, learns what it means to embrace responsibility for his own life and education and the well-being of others—Sua Sponte. The promise to help them do that is matched perfectly by the poignant promise of their lives as they begin the school year.
Choose groups to clone to: