Each summer, I pause in my intensive preparations for a new school year and write a letter to you thanking you for your trust and faith in St. Andrew's and asking for your crucial support of what we have come to describe as the St. Andrew's culture. This spirit of collaboration, respect, and consensus among parents and St. Andrew's is yet another way we distinguish ourselves from other schools in the United States.
I suppose it might be true that adolescents today feel the onslaught of an adult culture in our country that is increasingly rude, disrespectful, and divisive. Our children face the daily, incessant barrage of social media, a medium that paradoxically makes them feel connected, isolated, confident, and insecure—all at the same time. Students often face anxiety, pressure, and panic as they think about the college admissions process, the changing American economy, and the expectations they feel from family, school, and peers.
Of course, these currents of contemporary life do not have the final say over the future of this new generation of students. Parents and schools like St. Andrew's have an enormous influence and impact on the values, worldview, and spirit our children embrace. The mentors, the exemplars, the role models within our families and schools make all the difference in the world, and these adult men and women are particularly inspirational when they are aligned.
Therefore, I begin this year reminding each of you that as parents and adults, you are joining us in the education of over 300 students at St. Andrew's. The ways you live, speak, and work influence the students who surround your son or daughter every day. Our students watch you, listen to you, emulate you, find inspiration from you, particularly because you are not their parents; you are another credible, kind, and expectant role model in their lives.
Each time you visit the campus, each time you host students for dinner or a weekend at your home, you teach them what it means to be a citizen, a role model, a parent who ultimately cares for all children, even as you love and focus on your own son or daughter.
Adolescents at St. Andrew's need encouragement, high expectations, love, respect, trust, and attention. They need to understand that a culture of kindness, an ethic of hospitality, an embrace of diversity, a commitment to truth and integrity, an embrace of service is more than a St. Andrew's ideal and commitment; it is ultimately the source of hope and reconciliation and progress in our world
You, as parents, have always supported and intensified these cultural commitments. In the face of the sound and fury of contemporary culture, I ask you to bring and intensify your spirit to our community throughout the year. Embrace our alcohol/drug expectations as you welcome students to your homes. Expect to see that refreshing spirit of engagement, service, and respect from all of our students. Share your stories of resilience, accomplishment, and commitment with them. Remind our students of the remarkable potential of hard work, perseverance, and courage in your lives.
Last year, I spent some time wandering the sidelines and stands of high school athletic contests, listening particularly for expressions of parental values, principles, and attitudes. I am obviously a biased observer, but I did see an enormous chasm between the humanity, patience, and support of St. Andrew's parents and the anxious, bitter, aggressive, and demeaning words and behavior of other private school parents. This contrast is more than a difference in style and emphasis; it is actually a contrast between parenting and educating for character and parenting for emptiness, aggression, and selfishness.
As I seek to honor your sons and daughters this year, please know how grateful I am for your support, faith, and, yes, collaboration. I am proud to say that St. Andrew's extended family has made an enormous commitment to changing and healing the world. I think our work has only just begun.
Daniel T. Roach, Jr.
Merrill M. Stenbeck Head of School