Opening music, U2 “Beautiful Day.”

Good Morning St. Gregory

Welcome to 2009-10—what I fully expect to be an excellent year in the history of St. Gregory College Prep.

I am so excited to be here—This is an exciting school with a forward looking faculty and board, and a whole lot of people who are really, seriously committed to your learning.    It is a place where students flourish and where you do such cool things—in the science lab, in the writing classroom, on the ropes course, in the dance studio, on the sports field, in senior internships and trips to Kenya.    It is a place where you, our students, ask each and every day great questions.

Let me begin by Introducing the faculty by Years of Service.

Mr. Roberts introduces the Student Council.

Let’s cover some Practicalities

  • Late-Start Thursdays…(wait for student applause).  I am glad you students will all have the time to sleep in and rest on Thursdays— because, as you know,  you need lots of sleep to learn well.   But I want you to know that your teachers are NOT sleeping in on Thursdays, they will be getting here at the regular time or earlier so as to concentrate and collaborate on improving your learning.
  • Collared Shirts on Monday: Reminder, you are asked to wear a collared shirt every Monday!
  • Greening St. Gregory—Let’s Work Together to Make this a Beautiful and Clean Place.  We are starting a new Green St. Gregory committee, and students you should think about whether you might want to join this comittee.  But it is not just the responsibility of the committee members, it is the responsibility of EVERY student to make good choices every day to make this a more beautiful campus and planet.
  • Mr Roberts and I are starting an Meeting/Assembly Committee, in order to promote a greater focus on learning at meetings and assemblies.  THink about whether you might want to join such a committee.
  • You are invited to read my blog and Follow me on  Twitter.

Let me share a few more words with you.    In January when I spoke to the Upper School I drew upon the wisdom of Plato who explained that the work of education is the work of climbing out of the shadowy cave of ignorance to the daylight of wisdom and enlightenment—and that it is a tough journey—but one I know you all can and will do with our support.

This is something  I have in common with my predecessor Mr. Creeden, a love for the wisdom of the Greeks.

I know he asked you to uphold the Athenian Oath, and I ask that of you too: —to Transmit this City, to Transmit this School, not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.

Today however let me draw upon another Greek influence, that of Aristotle.  Like Plato, Aristotle also wrote about learning: “Anything we have to learn to do, we learn by the actual doing of it, We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave ones.”

Ultimately, learning is your work here, and I am asking you to learn by doing.   You know you grow as an athlete by playing.  Now your coaches are incredibly important—they explain techniques, they model skills, they challenge you, they support and encourage you,  they give you feedback for your performance.  (And not just in athletics—this happens too in arts and theater and music.)   School should be the same—your teachers are your coaches or directors, but you take the responsibility for doing the work of learning, and it is only this way you will learn the most.   Take it from Aristotle—Learn by Doing.

In concluding, let me transition from considering how we learn, to considering why we learn.   Ultimately this is a question each of you has to ask yourself and answer for yourself, but let me make two suggestions:  I think the two highest reasons for why we learn is first, to better appreciate the beauty of our world, and second, to better empower ourselves to solve the problems of our world      Instead of quoting Ancient Greek philosophers on this,  instead I want to quote a modern Irish poet—his name is Bono.

Touch me
Take me to that other place
Teach me
I know I’m not a hopeless case

See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the Bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light
And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out

It was a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
Beautiful day

Thank you—Let’s Have a great school year, and don’t let this beautiful day get away!
Closing Music– U2, Beautiful Day.