The events of the past few days and weeks have unsettled me (and I suspect many of you). The harsh realities made visible during this time culminating with the death of George Floyd have shocked us all. While I do not believe it is the role of the ESA Headmaster to comment on national events, I do feel strongly that it is my role and duty to support those within our community who are feeling outraged, hurt, fearful and anxious. We are the Episcopal School of Acadiana, and as such, I want to affirm the values of our school to one and all.
Our school is deeply rooted in its mission of scholarship and honor and in our Episcopal Identity. I have spoken at length to our students, faculty and families to emphasize that we must be a community that values every individual. That is fundamental to who we are, and who we hope to send out into the world. This was summarized in our work last year in the following way:
ESA graduates students who:
- Believe they can learn anything and have the curiosity, sense of wonder and resourcefulness to make it happen.
- Believe they can change the world, and work hard to turn knowledge into action in their communities and beyond.
- Believe in individuality, as well as in the power of communities built on respect, empathy and trust.
- Believe in creativity and in taking risks, and have the courage and resilience to learn from their mistakes
Education, in its essence, is an act of hope. It is an unshakeable belief that by providing young people with the fundamental knowledge, sharp intellect and moral tools they need to understand our world, they will lead us to a better future. We see the power of that idea every day with our students, and we see it in the lives of our alumni who are living in our imperfect world and working to achieve a stronger, more just and compassionate society. Because of them, my heart is filled with immense hope for the future even in these confusing and difficult days.
To summarize what that means for us here at ESA, I will use some words that former President Bush published yesterday. “The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving.” So, we pledge to listen to those voices, maintain a safe space to engage in civil discourse around these topics, and not avoid the difficult questions. By doing so, we will help to build the knowledge, intellect and empathy that will equip our students for the future.
I close with these words from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer as an expression for who we are called to be as members of the human family:
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through
Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family;
take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts;
break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love;
and work through our struggle and confusion to
accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time,
all nations and races may serve you in harmony
around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May God bless you all and keep you safe. Aréte!