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Head of School Reflections



The “fellowship hall” of my childhood church was a space that hosted the Christmas craft sale, luncheons, choir rehearsal, and our high school youth group meetings.  Some years we gathered there to experience a Passover seder, while others found us square-dancing on a Friday night (admittedly, a favorite of mine as a middle schooler).  This hall created space and opportunity for members of our congregation to gather in a unique and important way, though at the time I certainly did not appreciate just how unique and important it was. 

I had not thought much about that large, open room until this Thanksgiving when it became abundantly clear that our collective desire for fellowship—camaraderie, community, friendship—hit an all-time high.  After nearly two years of socially-distanced gatherings (at best) or skipped family holidays (at worst), Thanksgiving week travel was back in full swing.

Even as COVID-19 continues to shift in shape, present new challenges, and suggest that ultimately our relationship with this virus will reflect an endemic, rather than pandemic, presence, our return to holiday traditions does not come as a surprise: having endured since March 2020, our persistent caution is starting to feel like cautious optimism.  We are now armed with wisdom, experience, data, vaccination, and good judgement.  We have learned how to assess risk, how to take responsibility for ourselves and one another, and how to lead with choices for the common good—steps that have allowed us to experience fellowship once again.

This holiday season, I could not be more grateful for the community spirit we experience every day on our hilltop, a sense of devotion and companionship that persevered throughout 20-21 and now returns in full force for 21-22.  I see it when students linger in the dining hall after dinner to simply be together, read it in dorm reports describing movie nights and festive decorating, and feel it every time I walk through the Ragland Commons.  Fellowship

As you continue to navigate this next chapter of our shared story, reintroduce holiday traditions with family and friends, and embrace the unrelenting hope of a new year, I wish you a season of fellowship. 

With gratitude,

Rachel Stone P ‘23, ‘24