While we may wish to see only what is good and right in our world, we actually know that both the ugly and the beautiful co-exist in our world and are often inextricably intertwined. We witnessed both, juxtaposed, at the Boston Marathon. The media coverage was poignant, troubling and yet, often, hopeful. Our indomitable human spirit, alive and well in Boston reflects Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s statement: Only in the darkness can you see the stars. And, we saw true stars in the many first responders, police and FBI agents on the scene, as well as among ordinary citizens who acted with extraordinary valor and compassion to aid the injured and support the efforts of law enforcement. The annual Upper School Penny Drive has just concluded, and the students have requested that the funds, as yet uncounted, go to Boston Relief to aid those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings.
I believe that without darkness it is impossible to see the stars clearly or to anticipate the promise of the new dawn. And, in the resiliency that comes with putting the ugly into perspective, lies the strength of each individual. We teach our students the importance of a cooperative, resilient spirit; a tenet of the School philosophy, and I am proud of the many ways this is achieved, especially at this time in the academic year. Just as the star magnolia’s stunning blooms grace the entrance to the Harris Center, our students are also blooming brilliantly.
I am pleased to tell you that senior and student government president Martha Isaacs has been named a Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she will enroll this coming fall. The Morehead-Cain Scholarship is the first merit scholarship program established in the United States, founded at our nation’s first public university. Established in 1945 and inspired by the Rhodes scholarship at Oxford University, the Morehead-Cain provides an undergraduate experience without peer while providing a four-year merit scholarship. Martha is our third Morehead-Cain Scholar in the past four years; all three of our alumnae will be on the UNC campus together next fall. We know Meg VanDeusen, 2010 and Meghan Herwig, 2011 are eagerly awaiting Martha’s arrival!
In the STEM Institute, 8th Graders Hailey Morris, Marianna Salvatori and Sally Askew were named National Finalists in the 2012-2013 Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge!, sponsored by Siemens, Discovery Education and the National Science Teachers’ Association (NSTA). Middle school teams from across the country competed, and their project, Erosion Stoppers, was a response to the challenge to create sustainable, reproducible environmental improvements in their local communities. We are proud of their national recognition and know that their resilient spirit will help sustain our Backwoods for years to come.
Three other 8th Grade teams in the Middle School competed in the Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision science competition which encourages students to imagine what technology might be like in the future. Congratulations to the following teams who received Honorable Mention: Julia Garber and Danielle Chalecki for Cancer Cell Destructor; Ariel Egbunine and Sophie Shippe for Curatio Treatment; and Mia Thomas and Lindsey Feinstein for Arth-o-Glaze. Again, RPCS lit up the national stage!
The Sinex Theater stage has been brightly lit all year long with RPCS stars, but I especially enjoy the final art exhibits, concerts and solo and group performances that mark the springtime at RPCS: all showcasing the resilient spirit of our students in a remarkable way.
The Upper School Spring Concert last week was joyous! As I listened to the vocal and instrumental music selections, I was so proud of our student’s effort and hard work. I am pleased that the Upper School Chorus was invited to perform in this year’s annual AIMS Music Festival. The experience of performing for other area schools, as well as hearing other choruses perform, was a wonderful learning opportunity for our singers.
This spring’s Upper School play, The Dining Room, featured a cast of 36 students from RPCS and Gilman playing 57 characters in 18 scenes set at a dining room table. Fourteen of the students also directed portions of the play in which the characters transform with each scene as the dining room remains the constant, gathering place. To me, the play is a metaphor for RPCS and all we stand for. Through all these years the events that close each academic year serve to mark the end of one journey of discovery for our students and set the stage for the coming year’s learning and growth.
In the classrooms, exams and final projects will soon give way to celebrations of promotion ceremonies in our Lower and Middle Schools and culminating in Commencement on June 11. On our playing fields our teams are just beginning to compete in the spring sports playoffs. In the arts, the Upper School Dance Concert, the Lower School Maypole and the Middle School Concert will be held in the next two weeks. And, as the seniors prepare to leave our hallways for their senior outreach projects, I am confident that they are ready to face the challenges and reap the rewards that they will find beyond our walls.
Although we must have courage to face the dark sides of life, during the spring at RPCS beauty and triumph are everywhere.
~ Jean Waller Brune, Head of School