An independent, college-preparatory day school serving grades 7 through 12.
Head of School Blog: Welcome Back, Students!
Good morning, students. You might have been too nervous last year when I told you about my computer cycling me through six reassuring screens while it booted up:
Hi. We’re glad you’re here. Lots of Exciting Features for you to Look Forward To. We’re Getting Things Ready for You. This Won’t Take Long. Leave Everything to Us. Let’s Start.
But as I think about welcoming you back to Falmouth Academy, after nearly six months, I think those messages still ring true. Let me share a secret with you. I am nervous right now- maybe not as nervous as I was two years ago today, when I was a brand new head of school working with a brand new faculty on behalf of a brand new group of students in a brand new school in a brand new town but definitely more nervous than usual because to some extent, this summer we had to build a brand new school with brand new spaces and brand new ways of doing things. I read a post recently that said, “Every teacher feels like a first-year teacher this year.” I think that’s true of students too; it actually may give you comfort to know that to some extent every student, from the youngest "sevvie" to the most seasoned senior is going to feel like a new student this year.
So I say with enormous enthusiasm but with some trepidation, welcome to a new school year, the 44th year in this amazing institution’s proud history. With our 50th Anniversary just a few short years away, the time for considering the history of Falmouth Academy is near at hand. Any such history would undoubtedly start in year one, 1977, when 43 students, having been told that this new school would be in the relatively plush confines of the basement of the Atria Woodbriar Retirement Home, were instead rerouted to one of the English teacher’s back yard. It would also likely include 1979, when we proudly graduated our first class of six students. It would tell the story of soccer games on the fields of Otis Airforce Base soccer, kids just like you dodging gopher holes, and stepping over shell casings. It would celebrate the generosity of a family who in 1985 donated the land on which this beautiful campus sits today. It would tell the story of a Saturday morning in 1989, when, legend has it, a host of parents and teachers packed the entire school into a beverage truck that had been borrowed for the day and transported it from the air force base to the building we are in now. It may tell of the days when we were the town’s only recycling center or of the birth and eventual sad demise of Falmouth’s first wind turbine.
And yes, when that history is published when our school turns 50 and when we turn 100, when you will be about 70 years old, and I will be calling you to update you on the school at the ripe old age of 108, and perhaps even at 200 when we are all long and gone, but hopefully not forgotten, 2020 will very likely lay claim to a chapter in the bicentennial publication that someone will be writing that year. The story will begin in late February when four of us sat in the Tower Room and pondered a question that now feels like child’s play; whether to proceed with the French Exchange. It will undoubtedly reference the unprecedented government-ordered closing of our campus, the team that returned over March break to design a remote learning program, our impromptu PD sessions days before returning from spring break, conducted entirely virtually, a spring spent holding a school community together through flickering lights traveling through fiber optic filaments, another group that spent much of the summer planning for every eventuality even as the ground beneath their feet shifted by the day, the physical transformation of the campus, and most of all a faculty willingly exchanging summer beach time for more screen time, and showing up in September, perhaps a little anxious, perhaps a lot, but ready to take on what will prove to be not just a challenge of our time but a challenge for all-time.
None of us knows what the future has in store for us in the coming months and year or how history will ultimately tell that story. Will it be the story of a school community and in particular of the collective efforts of our students and faculty coming together in challenging circumstances and deciding one by one and as a group that we were going to do what needed to be done to safeguard our own health and the health of our fellow students and our teachers? Will it be the story of the most resilient school community in 200 years, the ones who chose not to wallow in what school couldn’t be and instead directed all of our efforts and energy toward making school the very best it could be, for everyone? Well, it’s up to you, and you, and you, and me. You’ve been through a lot these last past six months and in the coming six months, hopefully less, possibly more, we’re going to need every one of you to help us make this work. I think you are probably already sick of me reciting our school’s mission: “Harnessing the power of inspired learning in a world-renowned scientific and vibrant artistic community, Falmouth Academy emboldens each student to take creative and intellectual risks to confidently engage the challenges of our times.” “Confidently engage the challenges of our times.” We are in the midst of several such challenges, the pandemic being just one. So if I could time travel to the year 2173 and be the one that got to write the chapter about 2020 at Falmouth Academy, I would want to say… that was Falmouth Academy’s finest hour, the year everyone agreed not only to confidently engage but to collectively overcome the challenges of their times.