from Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

As we approach the end of the calendar year, the song “Auld Lang Syne” will be sung at New Year’s Eve gatherings, a related song by Dan Fogelberg from 1980 will be repeatedly played on Sirius/XM radio, or folks will sing along at the finale of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I’ve never quite been able to remember, let alone pronounce, the words to the song, “Auld Lang Syne.” Nor can I carry a tune, for that matter. And yet I find the meaning behind the lyrics and music particularly poignant this year.

Just a year ago, there was great hope and optimism that the strife of 2020 would give way to a better year. And yet, in so many ways, it seems as though we are in nearly the same place as a year ago. It is clear to me that we will be battling with the virus for quite some time and working through its aftermath. Over the last year, we have faced both joys and challenges, managed hopes and anxieties, experienced growth and endured hardship, suffered isolation and celebrated community, persevered and remain mired in an all too familiar place.

There is much to be learned by reflecting upon our individual and collective journey over the past year. All of us—students, parents, teachers, and staff—are re-learning what it means to “do school,” how to be in relationship with one another, and the values that hold us together. All the while with masks on our faces and risk mitigation measures that sometimes have the unintended consequence of keeping us apart.

I’m told that the ancient mariners set their path forward by looking backwards. In looking back, they were able to chart their progress using the stars to navigate. Each Panther Post in the month of January will be dedicated to charting our path forward. Over the course of four weeks, each of the four pillars of the school’s new strategic plan will be used to lay out where we have been, what we have learned, and how it will propel our school forward. Parents and guardians will have the opportunity to attend an in-person conversation about the State of the School on Thursday, January 20 at 7 PM that will also be livestreamed.

My interpretation of “Auld Lang Syne” is that it is not just about taking inventory of the past, recalling the ups and downs, closing the book on the year gone by, and leaving the past in the past. The last stanza holds both a key and a promise: what enables us to transcend the past and move forward is community and the kindness that draws us together.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
For auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

As we approach the new year, I invite you to join with me in gratitude for all we enjoy as an MPA community and in solidarity and hope for what lies ahead. May your winter break be filled with time together among loved ones. May you find ample time to rest and rejuvenate.

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