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Mr.  Jim  Boles
Upper School
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Principal's Corner

The Summer of 2015

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It goes without saying that the summer of 2015 has been one for the history books. In fact, the entire 2014-2015 school year, coupled with this summer, has provoked emotions from one end of the scale to the other. Unfortunately, many of these emotions have been negative. These emotions were fueled by senseless shootings, mistrust of once trusted officials, controversy over flags, and differences of opinion about lifestyles.   Most recently we endured our very own “right here at home” tragedy with the possibility of domestic terrorism. All of this is a lot for even the most stoic adult to handle. Can you imagine what our children must be experiencing? Unfortunately, I’m afraid they are witnessing what seems like endless waves of hatred that change from week to week as evidenced on almost every social media outlet and news outlet. I know that our young people are seeing these events, these reactions, and at some point they will decide where they stand on these issues. I have been trying to wrap my head around these things all summer, and it wasn’t until the other day when I stopped in to listen to some of our student leaders from our HS Student Government Association, who were having a planning meeting over at the Public Education Foundation, that things began to fall into place for me. Over a simple discussion about pep rallies, it started to become clearer.

It has become tradition for the classes to shout out with pride their graduating year. ONE FIVE! ONE FIVE!.....ONE SIX! ONE SIX! And so on. This has always been a harmless show of pride for the graduating classes. But these seemingly harmless chants have reached near rivalry levels, and they create a feeling of separation. Rivalry amongst one another is not what we are looking for, rather a spirit of unity. I shared with the HSSGA, this is something I would really like to improve. I told them that there is enough separatism and rivalry going on in the world around us; it is time to come together! I saw some acknowledgment and actual pain in the faces of students around the table. The things going on in the world around them are weighing on them heavily. I think you could probably choose any event from this past year and summer and apply it to any student sitting at that table or within the walls of our school and find some personal connection to him. Imagine an African-American student who fears he will be profiled simply because of the color if his skin, or a Caucasian student who is identified as a racist simply because of the color of her skin.   Picture an Asian student who is treated differently because she covers her head for religious purposes. Then empathize with the student who seems lost because he isn’t sure how society will react to his lifestyle choices. These are real concerns of our students; these are not just issues we see on TV anymore.

The hurt that I saw on many students’ faces wasn’t limited, however. A CSAS alumnus called me this summer during the Confederate Flag controversy wanting to know if there was some way we could help our community by training them to seminar. He said it seems if we can get our community to have civil dialogue and to look at facts and to listen to one another’s thoughts with respect, then perhaps we can avoid these events and hatred. Our students are learning a valuable skill through seminar. It is perhaps the number one difference between our students and others when they graduate. It is a skill that our world needs. In particular, when social media allows people to provoke and offend “from a distance”, the ability to think, engage, and share seems lost. I want our school to be a place where students can share their thoughts and frustrations and feel safe doing it. With so many emotions and so much access to facts and opinions, that is not an easy task to facilitate. However, if students have opportunities to share their concerns, their fears, and their beliefs, they will have forge avenues to solutions.

The healing has to begin somewhere and why not with young people who can take their understanding and empathy with them to effect change. My pledge to the students and families of this school is that we will do everything we can as a faculty and staff to nurture, listen, protect and guide you. It must be done with respect and love for one another, and we must always work toward a solution To parents, I ask that you reflect on your reactions to these events. What did your child see from you? I want to approach this as a team and community.