Curtain Falls, Curtain Rises

by Vince Durnan

The lively stretch that started with ribbon cutting last August as we entered a new year in a new way concludes with graduation on the Peabody green this Sunday. How did it happen and what comes next?
Our demonstrated tendency to put events completed in the “done” column and quickly move on does us a disservice at times. Seeing the 100th year sand running out of the hourglass makes me wonder and worry about who never got one of our three, yes three, Centennial books (the grownup, the Lower School, and the Middle School volumes, respectively). Makes me wonder and worry about who didn’t see one of our Centennial movies, or see what made the screen at the Belcourt on our big, albeit rescheduled, night. Makes me wonder and worry about who might have missed part, if not all, of the parade of speakers to campus, culminating in Kimberly Steadman ’93, charter school pioneer, at Convocation this week.

The big birthday party two weeks ago, so kid-friendly and open to all, captured the spirit of our school at the intersection of past and future, thanks to volunteers who answered the historic call and pros here on campus who went way beyond narrow job descriptions because they care so deeply. Right beside the puppet show and face painting was a powerful meeting between grandsons of Thomas Alexander (Dem School founder) and a grandson of Bruce Payne (Peabody College president who found the resources to build our iconic home). In their smiles we find the best kind of endorsement.

Those gracious gentlemen also connect us quite directly to the lofty aims of our predecessors, to their persistent commitment to do something with their educational opportunity. Having secured our reaccreditation last spring, finished the restoration of our teaching space last summer, put extra oompf in our familiar fall USNA events (most visibly Book Frenzy and Artclectic), drawn great crowds for Centennial Music and Movie nights, and enjoyed the most beautiful day ever joining alumni reunion with the birthday party this spring, what comes next?

The most frequent questions lately have been about the length and a dimension of people’s well-earned summer breaks up ahead, in light of all the check marks on USN’s to-do list. I’d submit that we should look at things a bit differently. Those things are done, documented for posterity, and done well. Let’s not miss the chance to take that bow, but let’s then let our minds start to wander.

Let’s wander to what we’ve earned the right to consider next: the school we want to be, the learning we want to sponsor, the message we want to send by our actions, and the contribution we want to make for the future by our choices in the present—all in light of our inspiring past. We toggle next year into listening, sharing, and planning mode—that’s where my time will go this summer. Here’s hoping that paths will cross often.

And for those of us who have wondered all year if the 100&One logo was too hard to decipher, now it’s time for 101. That’s crystal clear.

We look pretty good for 100,

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