We are in the home stretch! A week from today we will gather at the site of our school’s founding, St. Paul’s Cathedral, to celebrate and recognize the end of another successful school year. We are always very grateful for the generosity and welcome of the Cathedral dean and his staff and look forward to seeing you there as we declare the school year officially over on June 14th. Between now and then, however, we still have a number of important events and traditions that mark the final week of classes and we are looking forward to sharing them with you. Thank you for your support, patience and help in navigating a busy time of year for all of our families!
Next week, the most important of these traditions will take place on Monday evening when we gather with the Class of 2019, their teachers and special guests to celebrate graduation. Each year in schools across the country, thousands of students are recognized for completing their elementary educations. It is a time for schools to send students on the next stage of their journey, as they embark on the challenges of high school. The next four years will be exciting ones for each of them, as well as times of adjustment, decision-making, and planning for their families. We trust that their time at Matthews Hall has helped prepare them well – academically, socially, and emotionally – because to make the most of the opportunities that await them, they will need to depend on the solid foundation laid around the hearth and in the classroom.
In our homes and in our schools, our daily work is to impart the kind of attitudes and skills that will form this very foundation. Each student will need to put into practice the skills, both academic and human, that they have developed alongside parents and teachers when they are finally “released into the wild”. Actually, this has been the main goal of the adults in their lives all along – to train them, so that they can cope, thrive and survive in the world. When they have forgotten most of the details of ancient civilizations and provincial trade barriers or the names of the minor characters in the novels they’ve studied, the residue left behind is what will allow them to adapt to and overcome the challenges that lie ahead.
Life in school is not just a “holding tank” or means of occupying children before they are truly independent. It is “boot camp” for how to live a responsible, happy, and productive life. The training and example we set – and the alignment between home and school for such training – is crucial. Misalignment? The resulting dissonance sends mixed messages that wreak havoc with a child’s understanding of our old friend, the Common Good.
If we want our kids to be successful, respected and appreciated, we must insist on certain things during these important formative years: old-fashioned things like respecting elders, manners, integrity, gratitude, attentiveness, and self-management. Along with high marks, success depends on a proper understanding of personal accountability. We must guard against teaching our children and students that a “sloppy attitude” will exempt them from the consequences of poor behaviour, lack of motivation, and reckless speech. However, these consequences will surely await them, if they do not learn these important lessons during childhood.
Really, by the time our children are headed to high school, many of the most important life lessons have already been consolidated or compromised.
On behalf of the faculty and staff, and in partnership with you, we certainly hope we have been part of this consolidation!
Ric Anderson, Head of School