It is great to be starting a new year here at KUA. And for some, myself included, this is our first full calendar year as part of this amazing community.
Not only did we welcome our students and faculty back to campus after a well-deserved break, we also offered a warm welcome to two new students. Rohan joins us from Hong Kong via Massachusetts, and Holly joins us as an exchange student from New Zealand where she attends our GAIL partner institution, The Kristin School.
At the end of last year, our current seniors dubbed 2020 “the year of vision.” And all puns aside, vision is a great concept for us to think about as we start a new year. It is a good time to orient ourselves, as individuals and as a community, and to set a course for the big things we envision for the year ahead.
I challenged our students to think about their personal vision for 2020. As I asked them to take a deep breath and with lungs full of air, I urged them to envision the sense of pride that comes from working hard over a sustained period of time or mastering a skill. There is great pride that comes from within and great pride that we have in them.
And, the new year provides so many opportunities to capture that sense of pride.
For many, the hours and hours poured into the winter musical (February 20-22) will culminate in an experience that will shine in their memories for the rest of their lives. Memories of a collective success that required great personal effort and commitment. We will be witness to not only a remarkable show but a meaningful moment in the lives of many of our students. I urge you to attend and see it for yourself.
Our winter sports teams are in full swing with big games and ambitions for deep playoff runs. Our student-athletes dig deep. Their vision is not only of wins, but of acts of leadership, of commitment, of sportsmanship, and of pride in themselves and their teammates.
Accomplishments are awesome and milestones are important. They measure our progress and affirm our commitment – and our character. I love celebrating accomplishments and it is so gratifying to see our students striving and acknowledging and celebrating those moments along with them.
But there is something more important than accomplishments. Habits of mind and our approach to the world, as I said to our students, sit on a higher shelf and will have a deeper impact on their lifelong happiness and trajectory than any accomplishment. This year I am asking our students to focus on kindness and engagement – two essential qualities that will lead to great accomplishments and make them more meaningful.
Engagement is not only essential to the pursuit of excellence or knowledge, but it is also what helps us form relationships with those around us. It is impossible to overvalue kindness as a guiding principle, and the impact it will have on the lives of our children.
These principles will lead to great personal accomplishment, fulfillment, and success, and also reinforce the unique sense of community and belonging that students feel at KUA. Engagement is contagious and is a gift that we give to ourselves and to all around us, and kindness – to others and to ourselves – is a guiding principle that defines our culture.
We live this at KUA. You don’t have to search far for the exemplars, it’s all around us. Even our campus visitors are struck by it when they connect with our community.
As you begin 2020, we invite you to be part of our vision. I hope you will take every opportunity to engage with your son or daughter, with the school, and with fellow parents. There are great camaraderie and wisdom in those who are walking the same path of supporting their child’s journey. The year ahead has much to celebrate, as we marvel at the engagement, kindness, and the many accomplishments and milestones your children will achieve in the coming months.
It’s wonderful to begin this new year with a shared vision and with all of you.
Happy New Year,