From the Director: Creatures of Habit

At the risk of being prescriptive, let me still suggest that you make time in the next couple weeks to reflect on the habits that set the rhythms of your family, celebrating those that might otherwise go unappreciated. May you appreciate the glue that binds us together and leave a little room for what might be emerging as the next activities that will be worth repeating as ways to make meaning together.
 
Having just ducked into Music Teacher Doni Princehorn's magical space for another Songfest session, it's hard not to think about rituals here. This part of the calendar evokes particular thoughts of yesteryear, maybe especially so given that we’re about to say goodbye to another decade. In these shortest hours of daylight, we anchor more closely to familiar events, to those patterns of life that help us feel at home. In schools, we often count on that which we're used to doing as we imagine what we might next be doing — we're really pretty nostalgic by nature.
 
In the maracas-fused Feliz Navidad, the familiar Kwanzaa song, or the catalog of cultures celebrated in those K-4 gatherings, we find confirmation that it really is December at USN. Just knowing that these gatherings are happening actually brings a smile to older students who carry memories of sitting in those seats. They constitute a kind of metronome for us, even if it's been a while since we were there —though I’ll freely confess that I can’t resist sitting in, hoping that my turn might come to read some of the explanatory text for the group.
 
Next door to that singing and to the classroom parties that signal we’re almost at Winter Break, it's exam time for High School and for eighth graders getting their first taste of that experience. And even in the familiarity of the semester-concluding exercises, we see new wrinkles as a counterpoint. It's been quite a while since I've seen one those blue books used to write essay question responses, and in-class presentations and direct conversations with teachers better suit some classes, depending on the academic department. We understand the importance of sitting down to perform on demand via a multipage set of questions, but we’re making more room for other modalities, taking cues from higher education and from the world of work thereafter.
 
And down the exam-scheduled halls this week walk many of our recent graduates, returning with tales to share about adventures beyond 2000 Edgehill. They check on us in large measure to confirm that we’re still here, often seeming to prefer that we’re locked in amber or some kind of cryogenic storage just as they remember us to be. In some cases, only a year ago, they were managing the stream of news about early college acceptances and deferrals, with accompanying high and lows that loomed terribly large and indelible. And now those times are harder and harder to recall in detail, displaced by the excitement of new chapters and new landscapes of possibility.
 
Just as it’s beautiful to hear our MS and HS students singing Songfest snippets, it's important to see them encounter the college kids back here looking in. It's all a reminder of the continuum of life at USN and the place that each of us occupies from one year to the next. In predictability enjoyed by those of us in the Groundhog Day category, who see the iterative nature of what happens with a long view, we take both comfort and inspiration. For me, the challenge is to celebrate the familiar as an invitation to think of what might change as a foundation for our best forward thinking.
 
At the risk of being prescriptive, let me still suggest that you make time in the next couple weeks to reflect on the habits that set the rhythms of your family, celebrating those that might otherwise go unappreciated. May you appreciate the glue that binds us together and leave a little room for what might be emerging as the next activities that will be worth repeating as ways to make meaning together.
 
And may we never lose appreciation for one another, season by season.
 
Bring on 2020,
 
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