Starting the School-Year Cycle

By Dr. Terry Macaluso, Head of School

One of the components of the school year cycle that has always been perplexing to me is the starting and the stopping.  We spend a fair amount of time in June “closing down” an academic year.  Three months later we start everything all over again.  A tremendous amount of energy is required for each of those enterprises.

But when I go back through some of my own writings and listen to myself speak about school being the first place outside the nuclear family where children learn how to be a part of a group – a citizen in a society – my pragmatic complaint is really just that, a pragmatic complaint.  There’s a reason for celebratory endings and resolution-filled new beginnings.  It’s how we learn to become better people.  It is the human story.  Through our social configurations we learn, fail and succeed, to make decisions that do or do not support the collective good.  This is what schools are for.  Schools are places where students are supposed to make mistakes, learn from them, and move forward – making better and more sophisticated mistakes as they go.

When students return to school after a break, it’s a chance to present a new persona – to present themselves as the people they have become following last year’s experiences – and to throw themselves, uninhibited, into the next series of practice rounds.   Every decision students make throughout the year shapes their character, and provides insight into what it means to be one among many.  As students mature, they begin to understand that not only CAN  they contribute to the society in a way that adds value; they begin to recognize that they MUST.  We have the society we make.

As this new school year begins, I hope everyone will take advantage of the knowledge that this is a safe place to learn how to be a citizen.  Say what you think and listen to everyone else with an open mind.  Know that all of us share the experience of creating the society that IS EPS.  Recognize that there are differences among us even as we share a common community – and that in that community there is room for all of us.