Earlier today, Head of School Rick Hardy shared the following message with the CA community.
November 10, 2016
Dear CA Community,
Like many of us, I stayed up late watching the election returns and went to bed without knowing the final outcome. When I woke early yesterday morning, I found a nation expressing a combination of surprise and concern. I received messages from friends and family who, after one of the most bitter and divisive election cycles in modern history, shared a wide array of emotions. On campus yesterday, I saw those same emotions in response to this election, an election in which fear, anger, and distrust toward our country’s leaders were so evident. Like many of you, I found myself thinking about what it means to be an American.
As I have many times before, I also turned to this community and its values for guidance. At this moment, I want all of you — students, teachers, faculty, staff, parents, alumnae/i, and friends — to know that you matter, that you are needed, and that beyond this season of discontent you give the world reason to hope. This is a community guided by the covenant of common trust, a foundational value of mutual respect and decency that is more important now, today, than ever before. At this moment, just as I do every day, I ask you to support each other because we are stronger when we stand together.
Let me be clear that this is not a partisan stance; I respect those with political views different from my own. This is not about Democrats versus Republicans, liberals versus conservatives, us versus them. It is about how we can reaffirm what it means to be a member of our community and indeed a member of a civil society. It is about our core values, values that have grown out of this community over our long history and that will, I believe, endure forever.
In part, that belief is grounded in what I know about CA’s history. Our Chapel bears the name of CA’s former headmistress Elizabeth B. Hall, a strong and visionary educator who believed in the power of women to shape the world. Over this troubling election cycle, one that highlighted bias against women, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, people of color, and people with disabilities, I have been reminded of what it means to be at a formerly all-girls school. For years, this community was led by strong women who built a school that became renowned in our country for its creative and rigorous academic experience, as well as for its culture of respect for and service to others. Our alumnae/i community is filled with women who are leaders in the fields of education, business, arts, and science, as well as politics and diplomacy. We are proud of these women and all that they have accomplished, despite the profound and systemic odds against them.
Each day, chapel talks present us with an opportunity and a challenge. I think about the chapels that we have heard this year, in which people have shared often deeply personal stories, as well as divergent views. Gathering each morning in that space is an opportunity for us to open ourselves to each other, to be honest and vulnerable with the community, and for the community to respond by listening and accepting that person; it is a challenge because the act of truly listening, and attending to another, can force us to ask difficult questions and to have difficult conversations with ourselves and with each other.
I have tremendous faith in this community. That faith was reaffirmed on Tuesday night when Mary Craig, our student head of school, sent a message on behalf of student council, to our community. It read, in part: “The CA community is based on positive engagement in thoughtful conversations. As we were reminded in the recent C&E assembly, creating a positive, supportive community requires work, and we all need to actively engage in this process. We must work to avoid invalidating others’ experiences, and thereby inadvertently bringing hurt to the situation…. We are confident the CA community will be a place of support and love in this time of turmoil.”
Many of you have heard me speak of one of my mentors, someone who used to encourage me and others to strive to “always be better.” At this moment, I am reminded of these words. Let us all work together to make sure that we all live up to this call from our students, and that we strive to be our best selves for each other. I would mention the call from another mentor of mine, who told me that, as she put it, “There is so much to be done in the world, so many needs that must be met, so many wrongs that have to be put right. The world needs everyone — each and every one of us — to do that important work. We cannot spare a single person.” We know how true this is because we live that call and we honor it every day. So my call to us is this: CA is our community, the nation is our community, and the world is our community. It needs each and every one of us. We cannot spare a single one of you.
Even as we know there is much work to be done, now and in the years ahead, I believe in the future because I believe in the power of community to change lives and to shape the world, especially in this community. May you all find support and love here at CA.