Headmaster William R. MacMullen ’78 is passionate about nature, literature, and a really good metaphor. His 2019 Convocation address was rooted in all three.
Over the summer, Mr. Mac read The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World, by German forester Peter Wohlleben. In the book, Wohlleben posits that trees live like families: tree parents live with their children, communicate with them, and support them as they grow, sharing nutrients with and creating an ecosystem that benefits the whole.
Mr. Mac was struck by the text, and with chapters named things like “Friendship,” “Love,” “United We Stand, Divided We Fall,” and “A Question of Character,” he repeatedly asked himself, “Is he really just talking about trees?” He must be talking about people, Mr. Mac thought—about communities. We must all be trees and our school community a forest.
“As with trees, acts of connection, no matter how small, sustain and strengthen everyone,” Mr. Mac said. “We are a forest, totally interdependent, continually exchanging the things that make us stronger: friendship, ideas, support, respect, humor, love.”
Watch Mr. MacMullen’s full Convocation address here.