Headmaster's Remarks from the 2020-2021 1st Semester Academic Awards Ceremony

It’s good to have so many of you back on campus. It’s good to take this time to celebrate the academic achievement and effort of the first semester with our first ever ZOOM version of the Academic Awards Assembly.
There is ample reason to celebrate the first semester. Amidst the obvious challenges of starting school and staying in school in the midst of a pandemic, the overall performance of the student body, as measured by grades, was exceptional.

Along with acknowledging those students on Honor Roll, High Honor Roll, and Effort List, the most challenging and impressive of these three honors to achieve, tonight we are celebrating teaching and learning—the impressive engagement by teachers and students alike in academic pursuits and your shared willingness to accept moments of disappointment and discomfort, to embrace change, and to make the best of the situation. Simply put, these attitudes and behaviors are essential to a healthy life.
When I was in high school, I sometimes asked myself, what’s the point? How will I use what I’m learning later in life? I imagine that you might ask some of the same questions.
It has been suggested that it has taken me forty years of high school to find my answers—evidence that I haven’t done a very good job of embracing the process of learning.
But I’m a firm believer in, “Better late than never.” Here you go.
In addition to the essential lessons I mentioned previously about accepting disappointment and discomfort as part of life and about embracing change and learning to make the best of any situation, there are three ways that what you are learning today will be relevant to, and important for, the lives you will create.
First, school, high school especially, is where you face the inevitable tension between process and product and the irony that failure is essential to growth and success. Goals are important. Achieving good grades is important. But they won’t be achieved without a commitment to, and patience with, the learning process, which must include challenge, discomfort, and failure. The more joy and satisfaction you can find in the process, the more likely you will be to achieve your goals.
Second, your ability to use your brain—your powerful, remarkable, miraculous brain—will do more to shape the quality of your life than anything else. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “The function of education…is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.” Though written way back in 1947, never has this been more true, especially with the ease and myriad ways that you can access information, whether fact, fiction, or somewhere in between.
The third reality is that a well-trained mind is the most dangerous of weapons, without a loving and compassionate heart and without a moral foundation to shape your thinking and actions. This is why our mission seeks to prepare Millbrook graduates for “lives of meaning and consequence” as well as for college, and why it includes the values of respect, integrity, stewardship, service, and curiosity. This is why our motto encourages us to live, not just for oneself but for all.
Congratulations to the many students who have achieved the Honor Roll, High Honor Roll, and Effort List. To all, whether or not you achieved your goals in the first semester, the second semester offers a fresh start. Stick with the process. 
No comments have been posted