Embracing New Beginnings

By Paul Hagen, Dean of Students

There is something magical about coming back to school. The halls fairly hum with excitement (and just a touch of nervousness), classrooms are carefully set for the flood of scholars soon to occupy them, and students and faculty alike savor the sweet expectation of a year full of potential spread out before them. The possibilities seem endless, opportunities abound, and goals—big and small—are all within reach. Everything is new, fresh, inviting. There are new friendships to be made, and old friendships to rekindle. There are new projects to tackle, new problems to contemplate, and new queries to ponder. There are new students to welcome, and even the returning students are not the same ones we said goodbye to in June. They have changed during the summer. They have grown and matured. Their interests have shifted, their friendships have morphed, their abilities have developed…. In short, they have reinvented themselves. Summer experiences and outings have shaped perspectives, and summer’s freedom has helped to develop independence. New beginnings are always magical because they afford us all the chance to start fresh, to leave the past behind, and to refocus ourselves on the future. It doesn’t matter what happened last year—the past need not define the present. The present—this new year—will be defined, for each student, by how well they embrace the challenge and engage in the community.

 Embrace the Challenge: Learning isn’t always easy. Social interactions can be complicated. Being a middle schooler is difficult. So is being an upper schooler. It isn’t fair to tell students that this year will always be smooth sailing—it won’t. There will be rough days, hard work, and disappointments. When those hard moments arise, however, there is a community of students and teachers ready to advise, encourage, and aid. We hope all students will embrace the challenge, that they will work hard, strive, and even struggle a little. But we also hope that when things feel overwhelming students will seek help from advisors, teachers, and peers. It’s one of the things that best defines EPS as a caring community of scholars.

Engage in the Community: There are nearly endless opportunities to be engaged here at EPS. Students can join clubs, play sports, compete with an academic team, make something in the Design Lab, perform, and more. Students can meet new friends, work with faculty on interesting independent projects, and volunteer. While students cannot participate in everything they should all participate in something. We encourage all students to try something new. Say “hello” to someone you don’t know well. Join a club, try out for a theatrical production, collaborate on a project. Find ways to actively engage in the dynamic community.

Next week students will have the chance to introduce the new version of themselves to classmates and teachers during the Fall Overnights. They will also have the chance to embrace challenges, as—whether river rafting, taking on a ropes course, or hiking—they push themselves to try new things and work together. Likewise students will be able to engage the EPS community during the Overnights as they meet new classmates, teachers, and advisors, and as they build relationships that will sustain them throughout the year. This is going to be a great school year, all the better because we get to do it together as a community!