Head’s Welcome To Parents
I want to welcome parents to our Back to School Night. We have so many George Stevens Programs to share with you. We have so many people for you to hear from, and so many curricular experiences that we believe will enrich the lives of all members of this community. Thank you for coming this evening.
Tonight marks the end of the start of the school year. It is one of many benchmarks in the rhythm of our community. How schools start up each year, how they morph from beautiful but empty buildings to vibrant human communities, how newcomers learn and gradually embrace the school ethos and traditions, how an institution prepares physically for the arrival of 334 young learners, how teachers prepare themselves and their classes for that important first day, how coaches and music directors introduce that powerful dynamic of team play or working within a repertory, how students adjust to early wake ups and independent academic work, these are all dynamics that have endlessly fascinated those of us who choose to spend most of their waking hours amongst teenagers.
Your children and our charges have been very busy. Since the start of school, your sons and daughters started reading The Autobiography of Fredrick Douglass, the poetry of Seamus Heaney, Beowulf, Agatha Christi, and John Steinbeck.
Your kids have learned new cross-country courses and renewed their love of team play on a soccer pitch.
They designed and built objects of beauty and use at Haystack Mountain School of Craft.
They learned the mathematical concept of “continuity” in Calculus.
Students assessed the political and cultural impact of America’s Great Awakening and the idea of American Exceptionalism.
They assembled and disassembled polynomials in Algebra II.
They elected student leaders to student council.
Students completed T diagrams in Accounting.
GSA students launched canoes in the beaver pond, studied the hemispheres of our brains, began their study of Greek and Latin, interpreted ancient burial rituals, surveyed the political impact of 9/11, and learned Herby Hancock’s jazz composition ‘Chameleon.’
And one 10th grader, in class discussion of Beowulf’s braggart nature as he presents himself in Hrothgar’s house, concluded “Not only is he lying, he is lying stupidly…about dumb things.”
Teachers challenged students to think like a critic, to think like a systems engineer, like a furniture designer, like a diplomat, like a prosecuting attorney, like a scientist, a president, a tax collector, a composer, a physician, a poet, and a teacher.
They have been busy and engaged in the very complex yet natural act of learning and growing. We have seen effort, passion, conviction, and triumph. And this will continue for the next 262 days until graduation next June.
At George Stevens, we seek to be an antidote, to be a foil to what Ted Sizer observed in Horace’s Compromise that “American high schools are not thoughtful places…but only places of routine and boredom.” We seek to be a thoughtful place where students are excited and furthered by new ideas everyday.
Leon Botstein observed in his work Jefferson Children: Education and the Promise of American Culture that “our schools fail to challenge the critical faculties of young learners and that this is a dangerous thing to do.” We seek to be the rebuttal to that argument.
We want students to thoughtfully consider. We want them to talk about books, about ideas, about subjects, about tragedies and problems, about glorious success, about heroes and demons, about numbers and combinations and possibilities.
We want to engage their imagination and their intellect so as to make them part of community of knowledge makers. We invite them to envision solutions that did not exist.
We invite them to think of their world both materially and spiritually and to see and feel the connection between those two worlds.
We hope this evening you will get a better sense of what happens at George Stevens Academy on a typical day.
It will be a fun and enlightening night…just like most of our school days.
I would ask you all to turn and look at the teachers and staff who make this happen every day. Besides you parents and guardians, they will be some of the most important adults in the lives of your children and I wish to take this the opportunity to commend and salute them for their good works.
In order to get them to their rooms in anticipation of your arrival, please excuse them so that they might do final set up.
This is not an evening for individual discussion of students. If you have specific questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to set up an appointment to meet privately with a teacher.
This campus can be complex. If this is NOT your first GSA Back to School Night, please stand up. Those of you sitting…know that you can ask them for directions. We can give you reasonable directions. We will ring bells to change classes. Attend to them.
I welcome you all. Let us head to your advisory.
Paul B. Perkinson
Head of School
George Stevens Academy