Head of School Sam Houser shared the following messages with George School students, families, faculty and staff on Thursday, January 7, 2021.
Being part of George School as events unfolded in Washington yesterday helped my perspective on what was taking shape. As head of a Quaker educational institution made up of people who trust and believe in the power of peace, I condemn the violence that resulted in unnecessary national distress and, tragically, loss of life. Further, I feel called to applaud those who seek to resolve disputes through the peaceful means available to us in our democracy.
On many occasions over these past challenging months, I have felt a profound consolation and gratitude to be part of George School, for it is in our missional DNA to see the world as it is and to have the fortitude and ability to improve upon what we see. As a school we put young people at the center of our focus, supporting and challenging them in mind, body, and spirit to become ethical and engaged citizens of the world. This makes me profoundly glad.
The people of this school are my heroes: the faculty and staff because they have made the vocational choice to be there for young people through thick and thin, and the students because they are caring, earnest, creative, and seriously engaged in the preparation the school provides for them to make indelible marks on the world.
When the way forward is hard to see, George School is a light for me, and I hope it is for you as well. We will continue to align our work with the work of justice. We will continue to acquire knowledge for the beautiful sake of learning and to use that knowledge to benefit our diverse world.
The heart can soar in many ways at George School: as part of our elite mathematics program, on our athletics fields, on stage and the canvas, in field studies of campus wildlife, and, foundationally, in our meetinghouse. We will continue to form young people who aspire to be wise, who strive for self-knowledge and to be there for others, and who listen and act generously as part of a connected global community. As always, I am grateful for who you are, and all you do to bring our school’s mission to life.
I wrote to our entire community earlier today about the events that took place in Washington DC, and the hope that I draw from being part of this school, and I wanted to follow up with a note particularly for all of us who are in the daily, intimate community of the school. While I am glad that the United States appears to remain on track for a peaceful transfer of presidential power, the assault on our Capitol was a truly frightening act of violence—one that is antithetical to who we are, as a community and as a nation.
With that said, I need to acknowledge that members of our Black community, in particular, may feel shocked and unsettled by the images of an almost all-white group brandishing weapons and marching on the US Capitol. It is excruciating to imagine what might have happened if an armed group of Black people had done the same. This is especially so hearing accounts of friendliness and picture-taking among some law enforcement and members of the attacking mob and seeing that to date only a small number of arrests were made.
As classes begin this semester, it will be important for students, teachers, dorm staff, and advisors—and all of us—to find ways to discuss what has happened and give those who wish to voice their feelings plenty of space to do so. We are a community of many ideas and perspectives, to be sure. But our commitments to inclusion, peace, mutual respect, constructive dialogue, learning, and growth are paramount. With concern for our students in particular, please know that Caroline Bruss in the Student Health and Wellness Center remains a resource for those who would like that support.
As tumultuously as this year has begun, the entire George School adult community is here for our students, and we as members of the community are all here for one another.