Headmaster Willy MacMullen '78 welcomed students, faculty, and staff back to campus during Thursday's Convocation, and opened the 2018-19 academic year with a message that is both timely and, it seems, timeless. Referencing the school's 1918 Student HandbookMacMullen points to twenty bits of sage advice—"general admonitions"—penned by founder and headmaster Horace Dutton Taft.
"Some of the book seems, for lack of better words, 'endearing' or even 'cute....' But there is also wisdom for all times, and a challenge for us," said MacMullen. "In all, there are twenty admonitions, but here's the last: Be genuine. Don't try to make others think you are different from what you really are."
And while the advice carries weight for each individual in the school community, it is, MacMullen believes, much more.
"I think the admonition is more than just advice for the reader," MacMullen says. "I like to think that he ends with this because it really is a message for the entire school, a claim on what he knew to be essential in creating the kind of school community he aspired towards, because in order for every student to be able to be genuine, to let others see you for what you really are—well, then something really beautiful and challenging has to happen."
And happen, he says, through three suppositions: that there are no outsiders here; that it is our high standards that make us special; and that each student can effectively meet those high standards.
"If the year ended, and each of you were able to say, 'I felt I was my genuine self,' and as importantly, you could add, 'I helped others be their genuine selves'—well, that would make this a very special place indeed, a place with no outsiders, high standards, and complete faith. That's my goal for the year, for myself and for all of us, and for that opportunity, and for your efforts as teachers and students, I am deeply grateful."