The longer I am at Holderness, the more I realize how valuable this ten day period we just completed is. Each of the three programs you just completed is a defining program for Holderness. There are lots of reasons, but perhaps most importantly, they are each deeply linked to the mission and core values of our school, all of which speak to a life of service leadership, our motto/mission, and the beatitudes behind me.
None of this would be possible without the adults who buy into the power of this experience. When other heads of school hear about what our teachers and colleagues do at the end of a long winter, they marvel. Two shout-outs, first to the special program leaders Carol Dopp, Monique Devine, and Erik Thatcher. I also want to thank Ms. Barton, who in addition to leading and AB group, is still coordinating Senior Thesis and their March experiences. The other shout it is to our alumni who take their vacation time and come back and lead an Out Back group. This year we can thank Colby Coombs ’85, Sumner Ford ’09, and Celeste Holland ’15.
Speaking of remarkable alumni, one way you can assess whether your school is achieving mission is in looking at ones’ alumni. In all our alumni, and noteworthy in these three, I see that the key to Holderness leadership is being confident, but not arrogant or cocky. The difference between arrogance and confidence is that arrogance is grounded in insecurity, whereas confidence is grounded in humility. Each special program, each day, reinforces this quality of humble confidence.
For you Project Outreach participants, every day was a lesson in service leadership. And the stories I have heard, photos I’ve seen, and social media postings all address how you embraced this experience. A couple of you commented about the insights you gained about some of the amazing folks you met. They are in this situation not because they are bad or lazy but misfortunate. I know each of you have come away with a deep sense of how blessed you are, how privileged we are, and that it is by grace and good fortune that we have the opportunities we have. You are confident because of you have done meaningful work, but there is also a level of humility because of your deeper understanding of your own good fortune.
How about Artward Bound? As I was watching last night’s performance I was struck by the courage it takes to get up in front of your peers and adults and take the risks you took. Talk about getting out of your comfort zone and willingness to be vulnerable, whether it is dancing, or improve., singing, or drawing … All of those programs give you a sense of your own vulnerability and yet with support of others you can do amazing things.
And what about Out Back this year? You had a record snow amount of snow on the trails and unusually cold temperatures. Yet, the stories I have heard about you talk about your grit, positive energy, and appreciation of each other and the leaders.
Finally, none of the experiences in these three transformative programs would have been possible with the amazing leadership of the adults who embrace these programs and model a humble confidence in leading our students. Students, if you have done so already, please take a moment to thank your teachers.
Students, as you go forth from these experiences, I trust and hope all of you will act in ways that show you too are learning how to lead and live lives grounded in service to others.