We are living in an extraordinarily challenging time — one that has deep change, loss and uncertainty. None of us — but especially not our founders — could have imagined our 60th year this way. And I wonder, years from now, what it will be like to look back on this year of the pandemic. What story will we tell about how we as a school community fared during this unparalleled challenge?
Today marks the beginning of our seventh week of gathering with students on campus to enjoy some outdoor play and connection. After so many months apart, these weeks have been nothing short of miraculous and joyful. Since Grace is known by God, I am certain that God was with us as we made this step and surely delivered the spectacular weather we have enjoyed. I know I’ve shed a tear or two of joy myself seeing our students running across our fields, climbing on the play equipment, and gathering under our champion willow oak tree. If we have learned anything during this pandemic, it is that we have a new appreciation for things we have lost. Any chance to be reminded of the human connections that sustain us allows us to tap into an unfathomable well of gratitude. Grace is a place of connection and community. We have recreated and relied on those connections as we have built our Connected Remote Learning program, which provides the foundation for our reinvented school days: Outdoor Learning days in fall, and, we hope, in-building days beginning in January.
Recently, I was on a phone call with an alumna from the 1970’s. She is a dear friend to the school and she was reflecting on why she feels her years at Grace were so important. As she reached out to former classmates to gather them for this celebration, she noted that it is at Grace that she was known for who she was before she became anything. We both noted that, of course, that is also the meaning of God’s grace — we are loved and cherished before we ever do anything special and remarkable. I believe this is core to our mission at Grace — one we have held fast to for 60 years. Children of many races, religions, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds arrive at our school, and together as a community, they are encouraged to cherish what makes each of them human and extraordinary.
As we celebrate this remarkable milestone of 60 years, we hope the Grace community will contribute to our Gryphon Fund in record numbers! We rely on this giving to fund our program at every level. A Grace education is priceless indeed, and we continue to ask our wider Grace family to give as you can. In this year of our anniversary, we have established the 1960 society in honor of our founding year. We would love to see our community consider a gift of $1,960 in honor of our legacy and our future. We will also need this support as we continue to meet the extra costs and needs to open safely with Covid in our world. So far, we have funded new technology for faculty, acquired PPE and air filters, and purchased software to support our students with virtual learning.
In this remarkable time of crisis, I am eternally grateful to be a part of this community of love and connection; to lead a school in which the school song closes with the heartfelt line, “our differences are beautiful.” I know that 60 years ago, the women of Grace Church believed this to be true, and they seeded something that has grown into a thriving and truly remarkable community. Thank you for being with us for this very special moment in time. We cherish all of you: Our past, our present, and our future.