Founder’s Day Celebrates a Commitment to Service

On November 4, Roxbury Latin celebrated its annual Founder’s Day, honoring the very beginning of the school, founded in 1645 under King Charles I by “the good apostle” John Eliot. In its 377th year, the school celebrated a long tradition of service, a commitment at the heart of Roxbury Latin’s mission since its founding.

The day began in Rousmaniere Hall with choruses of Commemoration Hymn, Jerusalem, and The Founder’s Song, as well as readings in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, and English from members of Class I. Headmaster Brennan reminded students, “Not many schools can celebrate a Founder’s Day, and no other school can remember a founding more historical—nor a founder more consequential in his time—than ours.… On Founder’s Day each year, in honor of Eliot, we focus on his works and on Roxbury Latin’s mission—how its tradition has withstood the test of time, and how we keep that mission alive today. On this Founder’s Day, we will focus in part on Boston and what it needs, as we all strive to contribute to a more healthy, productive, equitable city.”

Dr. Pam Eddinger, President of Bunker Hill Community College, gave the morning’s Hall address. Sharing her own story as an immigrant from Hong Kong, arriving in Miami, Florida, at age 11, she spoke with students about how she learned to balance the traditions of her Chinese heritage and the expectations of her parents with becoming an American and pursuing a path that was meaningful and purposeful for her.

Earning her bachelor’s degree in English at Barnard and both her master’s and doctorate in Japanese Literature at Columbia, she admits that a clear career path didn’t immediately materialize for her. After beginning a communication director job at Mass Bay Community College, however, her path of service became clear. For more than 25 years Dr. Eddinger has been a visionary leader in the community college movement, which educates 50% of the country’s undergraduate population. She urged boys to find their own meaningful paths of service, no matter how circuitous the journey, and to consider the paths less trodden.

At the conclusion of Hall, all 312 boys, along with the faculty and staff, lined up in their RL finest for the traditional all-school photo. After donuts and a quick change of clothes, the entire school filed into the gymnasium for the day’s service activity: the building of 78 beds to be donated to children in need. This activity was in partnership with A Bed for Every Child, a program of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. The organization works with public schools and community organizations throughout Massachusetts to provide access to free, new, twin beds for children in need. As Dr. Eddinger underscored that morning, breaking the cycle of poverty requires a good education, and you can’t get a good education without a place to sleep at night. In teams of four—older boys paired with younger—students built twin beds and affixed to them stars painted in Roxbury Latin’s school colors.

Finally the day concluded with a barbeque lunch on O’Keeffe Field and games—soccer and dodgeball, kickball and cornhole—played in the chilly November air and bright sunshine.

View photos of the day’s events.

Later that evening, alumni and faculty got together for the annual Founder’s Day Pub Night in Boston. View photos from that gathering of friends.