Tom Guden ’96 Kicks Off the Season With Gratitude
For nearly 20 years, Roxbury Latin has launched the school’s Thanksgiving break with the annual Thanksgiving Exercises Hall—an opportunity to reflect on our many gifts, as individuals and as a community. “As you will hear from others today, in readings and song,” Headmaster Brennan began, “each of us has a bundle of blessings for which we ought to be grateful. As you’ve heard me say before, the only thing wrong with Thanksgiving as a holiday is that it may suggest that this is the only time to give thanks, or at least the most important. Each day—virtually each hour—offers an occasion for gratitude.”
During Hall students, faculty, and staff sang out—We Gather Together, For the Splendor of Creation, America the Beautiful. Ms. Reynolds read Psalm 100, and Mr. Beam read John Critchley Prince’s poem Harvest Hymn. The Hall featured the resonant Litany of Thanksgiving—which includes a boy from each of the six classes—reminding us all of our “blessings manifold.”
Delivering the morning’s address was faculty member and alumnus Tom Guden ’96, teacher of Classics and RL’s Assistant Headmaster for Advancement. Mr. Guden’s address was personal, and powerful, and it beautifully honored several other adults in the Roxbury Latin community who have made an impact on him, and for whom he is grateful.
The thanks that he offered—by way of stories and memories, some funny and some poignant—were far-reaching, and included not only his former teachers Mo Randall, Mike Pojman, and Paul Sugg, but also the students in the seats of Rousmaniere; the staff members who commit their time and talent to various aspects of the school; the loyal and dedicated alumni and parents who support the school financially each year, in order to perpetuate its mission; members of the RL community who have gone before us, leaving lasting impressions in their wake, including faculty member Steve Ward, and Billy McDonald, Class of 1980, who passed away his senior year; and Mr. Guden’s own parents, who sacrificed for their sons to attend Roxbury Latin.
“I am grateful that my parents sacrificed by scraping and saving to give me this opportunity to attend RL,” said Mr. Guden. “Both of my parents were educators, and they saw that Roxbury Latin would reinforce the values of hard work, accountability, humility, and respect for others that they strove to instill at home. Your parents want the same for you. All of you again should thank your parents tonight for the commitment they have made to send you here.”
“It was the generosity of those folks I’ve mentioned and, in general, the parents and alumni during that era that allowed my family to be a part of this community. I am grateful for those who gave me this opportunity. Each person in the room today, whether you are a student or a member of the faculty and staff, whether your family needs financial assistance or not—each one of us is benefiting from the support and investment of the larger community of alumni, parents, and friends who care about this place, ensure its long-term welfare, and want to give you this opportunity. We are all blessed to be here, and we should not take that for granted at any time, but especially in this season of giving thanks.”