The return from Winter Parents Weekend coincided this year with the Lunar New Year (a.k.a. Spring Festival in China and Tet in Vietnam), the most important holiday in the home cultures of many of our Asian students. On that February 5, we kicked off nearly two weeks of celebrating the diverse cultures of Holderness with food, festivities, and the beautiful sound of our many voices.
We have among us at Holderness students and faculty from 14 different countries, as well as others who live in the US but speak a language other than English at home. We were pleased to be able to celebrate those languages and cultures with two successive chapels, featuring members of our multicultural community who read poems, lessons, reflections, and prayers, and also performed music and song. The celebration culminated in a special dinner, composed of dishes from all over the world. It was fitting that our multicultural week ended on Valentine’s Day with a call to consider love beyond the mere romantic -- to champion a love that expresses compassion and curiosity toward those whose backgrounds, foods, traditions, and language are unlike our own and to realize how those differences make us a richer community.
Albert Bierstadt, the German-American painter renowned for his landscapes of the American West, came to the White Mountains to capture its simple yet overwhelming beauty. What came to life through nearly a decade’s worth of work was The Emerald Pool, a massive oil-on-canvas monument to the natural majesty of a hidden swimming hole along the Peabody River in the Pinkham Notch. Recounting The Emerald Pool, Bierstadt said, “I never had so difficult a picture to paint, as this White Mountain subject the Emerald Pool; my artist friends think it my best picture and so do I.”
At Holderness we deliberately build community through the people we bring in and programs we support. Today I want to share one story about people who showed us what it means to be a mission-centered community and talk about one unique program that is hitting a milestone.
Kicking off its 141st year, Holderness School welcomed new students to campus on September 5th. Under blue skies and surrounded by the cheers of joyful Senior Leaders, 114 new students eagerly joined the Holderness School community. The day was filled with smiles as new students and families unpacked their cars and turned dorm rooms into a home away from home.