Opening remarks for the 2019-2020 school year

Welcome back to you all. Special welcome to the ninth graders and to all of you who are new to the Upper School. I hope that you all had a great week and that those of you who are new to Waynflete will feel, with each passing day, that the Upper School is becoming more and more like home base to you. Please know that we are really excited that you have joined our community.

I want to start the year by asking a question that may seem a little odd coming from me.

What is the point of school? Really, what is the point of school?

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The special sauce

At the most recent meeting of the Upper School team, I asked each advisor to tell a brief story that illustrates their happiest moment at work over the past two weeks since the start of the new year. When it came to my turn, I could honestly say that my favorite moment had just happened—listening to their stories. Those stories clearly illustrated the truth of what one advisor had said, which is that “the special sauce of Waynflete is alive and well.”

Based on those stories, the sauce ingredients include:

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Why is Colum McCann coming to speak at Waynflete?

Many of you have already noted with great excitement that Colum McCann, the widely read and highly acclaimed Irish author of six novels and three collections of stories, is coming to speak at Waynflete during the evening of February 6, and again to an Upper School assembly on February 7. Not surprisingly, given his stature as a writer, the public event on the 6th is already sold out.

While Waynflete’s interest in hosting such an important writer would seem self-evident, you may be wondering why Mr. McCann is interested in coming to Waynflete, particularly since his public appearances are rare these days. It turns out that he has another mission in life besides creating great art. He is a co-founder and president of Narrative 4, an organization dedicated to equipping tomorrow’s leaders “to use their stories to build empathy, shatter stereotypes, break down barriers, and—ultimately—make the world a better place.” The Narrative 4 motto is “Fearless hope through radical empathy.” Check out the video on the Narrative 4 web page describing their signature program, “the story exchange” (linked here).

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Family Rock: On Cell Phones, Security, and Special Places

For each of the past eight years, the ninth grade has gathered at Chewonki’s wilderness outpost on Fourth Debsconeag Lake, just southwest of Baxter Park. In its previous incarnation, the facility was a hunting and fishing camp called Pleasant Point. Pleasant Point Camps became a special place for my family through a series of visits there over a succession of summers and winters. While I was sad when the camp was sold in 2008, thus ending a happy phase of family life, I felt consolation in the assumption that because Chewonki had purchased it, Pleasant Point would come back into my life through Outdoor Experience.

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Opening Remarks from Upper School Director Lowell W. Libby

Welcome back after so many miles hiked, biked, and paddled, services rendered, new connections made, old relationships deepened, and our collective appreciation for the natural environment heightened. It is a lot to ask of faculty to spend four days and three nights away from their lives be with you on these trips, but every leader I have spoken with so far has reported great things about being in your company such that the experience has fired them up about the school year. I certainly feel that way about my time with the 9th graders. That says a lot about you as a student body. So, when you see your trip leaders around campus – especially Blake who as OE coordinator has been breathing in for weeks now and is just now getting to exhale – thank them for all they do and then pat yourselves on your backs for a job well done. Continue reading “Opening Remarks from Upper School Director Lowell W. Libby”