The following article is a transcript from this year’s Mid-Year Reflection from Head of School Joe Williams P’22. To view the original video message, please click on the first image. Happy holidays from all of us at New Hampton School.
In one of our rooms in Smith House, my wife has created a gallery wall of pictures. The images of family and friends cover all available wall space to honor our past and commemorate special events and the people we experienced them with.
Today I would like to share with you the School’s gallery wall to highlight the historic year we are having. Our bicentennial celebration has collided with a national pandemic which has challenged our operations, our sense of community, and at times our optimism. But despite the challenges we have all faced this year, there is much to celebrate and be thankful for this holiday season.
Building our story
New Hampton School was born from the vision of John Kelley Simpson in 1821, who recognized the need for a vibrant educational community that was welcoming and accessible to men and women of all backgrounds. Since our humble beginning, we have demonstrated a resilience and adaptability to thrive through hard times, to focus on the needs of the people, and to come together around a shared purpose.
This year we have risen to the challenge once again and have demonstrated how our combined strength and commitment to community has allowed us to be present to tell OUR STORY of perseverance and in doing so be more mindful of our good fortunes.
Our students returned to campus in August to much celebration and some understandable questions about what this year would look like. Returning students were eager to reunite with classmates and get back to some level of educational normalcy, while new students have only known us in pandemic mode.
This year we are a masked community, but these all-important face coverings can’t truly hide the smiles we know exist beneath them. Simply arriving on campus elicits a grin, that sense of being “home” and where we belong during an otherwise complicated time.
We have always felt a responsibility to provide a sanctuary for our students. A place where they can live, laugh, learn, and play with a healthy insulation from some of the distractions of the outside world. Never has that been more important than this year.
However, learning from important national issues has always been part of our mission. With leadership from all corners of the community, our commitment to equity and inclusion led to the launch of a student-designed course called Acknowledge Discrimination, developed important affinity groups, supported student activism, underwent important faculty professional development, and have begun the process of a formal curriculum review.
A network of strength
Founder’s Day in September was the official “kick-off” to our bicentennial celebration, helping our students understand our important history, their place in it, and the alumni network of more than 7,000 Huskies they will join upon graduation.
We have benefitted greatly from the generosity of those that came before us – in the facilities we enjoy, the endowment resources that support financial aid, Project Week, and much more.
This year is no different, with students returning to campus to enjoy a resurfaced Kennedy Field, fully renovated locker rooms, and a brand-new Wellness Center supporting the mind, body, and spirit of our community when we have needed it most.
We also opened the year with our library functions in a newly renovated Gordon-Nash Library, which will serve as an important hub for programming with the greater New Hampton community when the pandemic subsides.
Through individual sacrifice that kept boarders on campus for the duration of the fall and eliminated all participation in club sports and off-campus activities, we defied the odds and offered a robust interscholastic athletic schedule with our Lakes Region League partners. The ability to participate athletically with peer schools boosted spirits and served as an important reward for and incentive to remain healthy.
Gratitude for our community
My gratitude goes out to the faculty and staff in our community who have been steadfast in their efforts to make this the best year possible for our students. They have pushed aside the uncertainty of what lies ahead and worked together to focus on the present and I thank them for all they have done.
Similarly, I extend my thanks to our parents for their trust, flexibility, and sacrifice. An incredible message of confidence was delivered by our parents with your outstanding support on our Day of Giving.
With our students now all safely home, it is time for a much-needed break so that we are rested and ready to continue this extraordinary year in January with a busy campus once again.
On behalf of everyone in Husky Nation, I wish you a safe holiday season. Thank you for your support and best wishes as we prepare to continue OUR STORY into 2021!