Opening of RL’s 377th School Year
“Each day we invest in our well being,” said Headmaster Kerry Brennan from the Rousmaniere Hall stage on Monday, August 30. That morning, the traditional Opening of Fall Term Hall—held in the nearly traditional way (though with face masks in place)—kicked off The Roxbury Latin School’s 377th academic year, as Mr. Brennan welcomed the 313 students, along with new and returning faculty and staff, to the start of the school year.
Mr. Brennan’s address, focused on the theme of eschewing instant gratification for more deliberate efforts, like hard work and lasting results, continued with examples from literature and history, psychology and science, personal life and school life.
“We engage with activities and challenging thoughts in order to grow and change,” he said. “Sometimes it is hard to appreciate that a given assignment, a given course, a given set of requirements even will lead to academic epiphanies that are discernible and life-changing. Instead, in designing a school experience for all of you, we are assembling content and skills-building and diversity of exposure and team building and joyful collaboration in order to pique appetites, but, also, to form unassailable habits that will serve us well throughout our lives. These are habits of persistence, of perseverance, of discipline, of stick-to-itiveness, of hard work, of coping with disappointment, of making apt choices, of acknowledging delight, and knowing satisfaction.
“But we also know that [at times]… you will be frustrated. You will question why you have to do this thing. You will complain that we are piling it on. You will feel exhausted. Even resentful. You’ll wonder if it is ‘worth it.’ Of course, what I am asserting is that the most delectable fruit will emerge later. When you are undergraduates. When you fall in love. When you immerse yourself in a profession. When you give freely to your community. When you commit to a partner and parent children. When you lose your parents. When you are faced by tough decisions involving truthfulness and integrity. By practicing situations in which values are important if not essential, we believe that your character will be shaped and revealed… that your time and work here will in the future—near and far—result in your being mindful, virtuous, kind, effective, civic-minded, contributing, loving people.”
Prior to the Headmaster’s address, Class I president John Paul Buckley read selections from Isaiah 40 and the entire school sang together rousing renditions of America the Beautiful, Commemoration Hymn, and The Founder’s Song (the first time the school sang together inside Rousmaniere Hall in more than 18 months). Mr. Brennan honored those in our community who are new, or long-serving, or taking on new school roles. He honored the members of Class I seated in the front rows, and he welcomed the Sixies perched in the balcony.
Headmaster Brennan concluded, “In a year that comes on the heels of 17 months of remarkable sacrifice, uncertainty, disruption and fear, I wish for all of us the gratification that comes reliably from our joining together to do our work, to learn and to teach, and, as always to forge a living community of rigorous pursuit, reliable support, fertile friendship, and love. Stick with it. Have faith. Have hope. Work hard. And, of course, have a great year.”
Under pleasant but overcast skies, the faculty and staff then gathered around the Senior Grass for the traditional opening day all-school handshake (this year, also fist bumps and elbow bumps) 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. At precisely 10:30 a.m. the bells tolled, the handshake ritual concluded, and boys and adults were off to class, for the start of the academic year.