This is the season of hope. Not only because “Students H.O.P.E.,” which took place just this past weekend—the largest, single-day, student-run, CA service effort just celebrated its 25th year. This has become a remarkable event—bringing more than 2,000 people to Colorado Academy’s campus, to get clothing, food, medical services, and holiday gifts…all organized by our students and staged this year in our new Field House. Congratulations to all of them.
I am fortunate to see and interact with kids every day who remind me how the passion and hope of students is why many people are drawn to teaching. Schools are hopeful places—where all actions are taken because of a belief in tomorrow—and belief in our mission: to create life-long learners, productive participants in the world, people who will contribute, learn, and understand their own power to make a difference.
Hope is a message much in demand in these times, for no matter your political leanings, it does seem we are living in unprecedented, defining, and difficult times, with unforeseeable roads, unknown destinations, and a path forward often hidden from view.
If you study mythology, regardless of the country of origin, gods and goddesses of light and hope were being born during the winter solstice, in answer to Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind, or later in the form of old man winter, or Russia’s Father Frost. And the holiday of Hanukkah, being celebrated right now, is known by another name—the festival of lights—a time of rededication just when faith is most likely to wane—amidst winter’s darkness. Another example: Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every autumn, symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.
Writer Rebecca Solnit says, hope “locates itself in the premises where we don’t know what will happen, and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty, there is room to act.” She goes on: “when you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes—you alone, or you, in concert with a few dozen or even a few million others.”
We witness that here at CA as dozens and dozens of families join together to support our current capital campaigns to provide the facilities in which we teach our students, now and for years to come. I sometimes quote a piece by columnist and author Anna Quindlen, who describes her family’s work of putting a slate roof on an old farmhouse in Pennsylvania. There is not much that is more enduring than a slate roof—held tight with copper nails.
Quindlen likens the daily work of raising and educating children to the placement of those slate shingles—one laid upon another…and another…and in the end, she says, “if you have done the job with care and diligence, you have built a person, reasonably resistant to the rain. More than that, you have helped build the future…and just like the roof, growing larger and stronger, one small piece after another making a great whole, until it can withstand wind, and heat, and blizzards, and downpours.”
And so is our work at CA, both literally and figuratively, helping to build people and building the spaces where children learn and grow—putting a roof over them that will shelter them—even beyond our own inevitable passing.
CA’s soon-to-open Athletic Center is the third project that we will have completed as part of the See it Through campaign, and we are still working to fully fund this project. We hope to open the doors on February 6, 2019. Then, we will turn our attention to the fourth and final structure, a new performing arts center. With that project in our sights, we will have, over the past 20 years, rebuilt, refurbished, or renovated nearly every major structure on this campus.
As a historian, I am always fascinated about how history remembers, and how people commemorate, the most trying of times—the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the four-score anniversary of events of World War II, more than 60 years since the Vietnam War, 50 since the Civil Rights Movement.
I recently read the speech that American novelist William Faulkner delivered upon accepting the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950. Attuned to the times, he described a general and universal physical fear of war and conflict so long sustained that he said, “There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the one question: When will I be blown up?”
But Faulkner chided the young to relearn and resist the state of fear and instead turn to hope. Faulkner put his faith in humankind: “He is immortal,” he says, “not because he among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit, capable of compassion, and sacrifice and endurance.” And he saw his own role as a writer and observer of history to “help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice.”
Wishing everyone a happy holiday season. Thanks to our community for all its support of CA.