After nearly two decades of working in education, you might think the cycle of a school year would feel redundant: the same calendar, same events, same games, same final exam schedule. Like a farmer who will always be challenged by unpredictable weather, the challenge of our craft lies in the ever-changing nature of the uncontrollables -- the personalities, talents, and inherent energy of the students and adults in our community who make the February 2022 version of ourselves wholly unique.
The final weeks of each trimester provide visibility into the outcomes of the daily learning happening in our academic classes, performing arts program, and athletics. Beginning with last weekend’s performance of She Kills Monsters, the hard work of students has been on display for the entire community. Academic Concentration presentations, final home games and races, the Winter Term Art Show, and Jazz-Rock Ensemble performances are just a few of the opportunities we have had to see student work in action.
As students and faculty streamed from the Brown Dining Commons to the Wilkins Meeting House on Saturday evening, a palpable energy filled both the downstairs and upstairs lobbies. Metalwork, woodwork, paintings, textiles, ceramics, and sculptures covered the walls and tables throughout the building. Hundreds of students had work represented, each piece representing an individual learning journey, dozens, sometimes hundreds, of hours of experimentation, failure, and adjustments before a final product was put forth for community viewing.
A similar artistic learning process unfolded on the Norris Family Theater stage moments later as the Jazz/Rock Ensemble performed. We talk often about the role risk-taking plays in the learning process for adolescents, and nowhere is that process more visible than in the performing arts. One culminating show for the term, hundreds of eyes watching the stage, no place to hide, and yet this is where we see the beauty of an authentic learning process with our students - both from those performing and those observing.
These culminating performances and art exhibits are not about perfection. They are about understanding, valuing, and appreciating the process. When Scott ‘25 stepped in front of the microphone for his first solo vocal performance, he took one of the biggest risks of his young life. His performance was tremendous, but not perfect. And yet in the eyes of those in attendance, perfect pitch was not on the rubric of success. Everyone in the audience recognized the bravery it took to do what he did and celebrated this step in the process alongside him.
The art on display in the Meeting House serves as a fitting representation of our community. We are all works in progress, all at different stages of development, all seeking to become better versions of ourselves. When peers rally around us to help us along our journey, we know real learning and real growth are possible.