As students and parents made their way into school yesterday, a team of faculty shared their enthusiasm for the start of the year with music, good cheer, and welcome signs that the students had made. It was heartening to see the smiles on the faces of the small and the tall and the young and the older. Later at chapel we were able to set an intention for the year with some songs (one sung by a faculty chorus), some lessons and prayers, and a welcome back chapel talk, all centered around our theme word this year, "Believe."
The lesson for chapel was Jesus's parable of the mustard seed, where he wanted his followers to believe that great things can grow from small beginnings, a simple and powerful message for opening day. First, I shared a few mustard seeds with several students so they could see just how small the seeds are. Yet when planted in the ground, they grow into a bush-like tree so large that birds can perch on its branches and build their nests in it. It is a miracle of God's creation that something so small can turn into something so big.
I then asked the students to tell why we were starting out our school year thinking about the planting of seeds. Their responses were on target and inspiring:
- Good things start small and turn into something wonderful
- Seeds need good care, so we have to be willing to look out for each other
- You don't always know what will become of a particular seed
- We still have to believe and have faith that it will become something greater
- Planting seeds is an act of faith; you have to believe it is going to grow
Our teachers have been working hard this past summer to figure out how they can do more to tend the seeds that our students represent. They have been asking what they can do to challenge students to grow into the best learners and people that they can be. When I asked students what are some of the ways that we can help to nurture the growth and development of each other, again the students had much to share, both in chapel and afterward.
- If you believe you can do it, you can.
- We can look out for each other
- You can be kind to a new student
- We can have a growth mindset
- We should stand up to meanness
- We can try to include others
- We should respect the feelings and opinions of others even if we disagree.
- We can change the world
In this, our 16th year, as we go forward as a community of learners and friends, we need to all be seed planters, people who see the hope in new beginnings, people who notice that good things often start small. We believe that we can all grow, learn, and achieve great things this year. It is not always going to be easy. Challenges can be hard, but the learning that happens in the process is often the most durable. At St. Anne's Episcopal School we believe we are all seeds well-planted!
We had a great first day! Welcome one and all!
Head of School