November 10, 2016

Dear CA Community,

We close our first trimester of the school year tomorrow, and the timing is good. This is always a stressful time at CA, as we end the longest uninterrupted stretch of school with a flurry of end-of-term projects, papers, and assessments. Our bodies are tired, and our patience is taxed. Many of us will come down with colds, as our immune system finally gives in — just in time for family to arrive for Thanksgiving! 

That is how a normal T1 ends at Cary Academy, but this year has not been normal.  

We’ve just gone through a historical end to one of the most divisive election cycles in US political history. The last 18 months has been filled with explosive rhetoric. This has put many on edge. Once an election like this ends, the sting of a loss can feel overwhelming, the satisfaction of a victory tempered by its cost. 

Over the past few days, many of you have been having conversations at home and processing individually and as a family. As a community of learners, it is not surprising that your feelings can also make their way into our school hallways and classrooms. I am grateful that we can turn to one another for hugs or high-fives, in circumstances big and small.  

This has been what we sometimes like to call “an authentic learning opportunity,” not just because it is about what is happening in the real world but because it challenges us to grow.  

I believe Cary Academy’s diversity and inclusivity is a core strength and differentiator of this school. I brag to others that our core values of respect, integrity, and compassion were written by students. I am proud that there is a place for everybody at Cary Academy.

As our Director of Diversity and Inclusion Jason Franklin likes to say: It is good to see you, and good to be seen.

Nothing challenges us to live our core values like an election, when momentarily the world is divided into two neat categories: winners and losers. This is a time when we are most vulnerable, as individuals and as a community. Over the past few days, we have seen Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton offer conciliations and cooperation — giving us examples for our own behaviors and hope for the healing to come. 

We also are challenged because, as a learning community, we have an obligation to push beyond just acceptance of others. With care and respect, we must seek out understanding. Our modern media landscape makes it easy to get our news from select sources, creating an echo chamber reinforcing our own world views. At Cary Academy, though, we work and socialize alongside individuals with an unbelievably diverse range of experiences and perspectives. This presents a wonderful opportunity to learn from one another in a place where we already study, laugh, and play together daily. We have a base to build from that we should not take for granted.    

Tomorrow is Veterans Day, and the timing could not be better for a moment of shared reflection to recognize the service others have made on our behalf. I lived 17 years of my life outside of the United States, and I do not take for granted the special (if sometimes messy) nature of our democracy.  When we return from the break, I look forward to working with all of you to honor the service of others by continuing our growth and development as a members of the Cary Academy community and citizens of the United States. 

Best wishes for a meaningful Thanksgiving.