It was an emotionally moving morning. At 10:00 a.m., our Middle School students and faculty gathered on the athletic field for seventeen minutes in a circle. Fourteen students and three faculty members formed an inner circle, and each read a short biography of a student or faculty member who lost his or her life one month ago in Parkland, Florida, due to gun violence. Many of the students targeted at that Florida high school were fourteen at the time. Lighted votive candles for each of the seventeen students and teachers were arranged in a circle with a white carnation beside it. We prayed together and then quietly returned to the daily routine. There were hugs and some tears, as would be expected. Sadly, it was a reminder of the world we live in and innocence that is lost much too soon. Yet, as I stood in the circle with our precious students and faculty, I was struck by the compassion, love, and care that flowed among us. The circles got smaller as we moved closer together.
When I speak with prospective parents, I share with them how special this school is, and I often say that our kids are normal kids. In reality, however, our students are anything but normal. Why is that? Because they know how to be kind and because they love their classmates. All of them. In spite of differences they may occasionally have, our students would do just about anything to help a friend or member of our student community. Compassion runs deep, so when one member suffers, we all suffer. I have seen students come to talk with a teacher, an administrator, our nurse, or our chaplain because they are worried about a friend. In that same vein, adults in the community will approach a student that may seem sad, too quiet, or alone. The kindness and compassion I see every day make a difference. Every child is noticed, and rarely does someone slip below the radar. All of this contributes to making this a place where students feel comfortable, cared for, and safe. Perhaps it is why there are so many tears when we say our goodbyes at the end of each year.
Today, we remembered the fourteen young lives that ended too soon. Today, we remembered the adults who stood beside them and in front of them because they cared. Today, we were reminded that having the courage to be kind, to care, and to reach out to one another gives us all strength and makes the burdens we might carry a little bit lighter. This is just one of many reasons why St. Michael’s is special. Here in our community, we care.
Head of School