Roxbury Latin Begins Its 379th School Year
“Teachers and scholars of the oldest school in continuous existence in North America, good morning and welcome back,” said Headmaster Kerry Brennan from the Rousmaniere Hall stage on Monday, August 28. That morning, the traditional Opening of Fall Term Hall began The Roxbury Latin School’s 379th academic year, as Mr. Brennan welcomed the 308 students, along with new and returning faculty and staff, to the start of the school year.
Prior to the Headmaster’s opening address, Class I president Nick Consigli read Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day” which asks, in its conclusion, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” The entire school then sang together lively renditions of America the Beautiful, For the Splendor of Creation, Commemoration Hymn, and The Founder’s Song, with sophomore Eliot Park making his debut as the school’s newest in-house organist. Mr. Brennan honored those in our community who are new, or long-serving, or taking on new roles in the school. He honored the members of Class I seated in the front rows, and he welcomed the sixies perched in the balcony.
Mr. Brennan’s address focused on what it means to be a good school, a good teacher, a good student. Among other important distinctions he urged that a good school is prepared to evolve, and offers a dynamic example of community; that a good teacher love his students more than his subject; that a good student looks beyond that for which he will receive class credit to that which inspires him—that a student be open to learning that which is not on the syllabus.
Ultimately, Mr. Brennan concluded: “I care more that each of us is good than that each of us is great… What I’m talking about when I talk about good is not some second tier gradient on a scale. In seeking to be good, for the school, the teacher, and the student, I am signaling we should put character, good will, generosity, honesty, teamwork, empathy, love even, first. In pursuing whatever goal a school or a teacher or a student may have for achieving and measuring success, it should never be the result of sacrificing that which makes us fully and appealingly human. At least in the way I have heard “great” trumpeted and abused in society and in common boasts—often bragging of winners over losers—I will take “good” over “great” any day. When all is said and done in our personal and professional relationships, we will always be more impressively admired for our goodness than for our greatness. This year and always, let our essential goodness be among the things that surprise and arrest us and be part of our plan for our wild and precious life.”
After the Hall’s closing prayer, and the school community “passed the peace” to those around them, the entire school moved outside under sunny skies. Students, faculty, and staff gathered around the Senior Grass for the traditional opening day all-school handshake, which serves to welcome people new to the RL community—boys and adults—and for all to wish one another a happy and strong start to the academic year.