We are thrilled that you are here, renewing and celebrating friendships, meeting men and women from very different eras in school history, and understanding how vital and central this community has been to the unfolding of your lives.
Our Alumni are the school's ultimate demonstration of the quality and resonance of St. Andrew's. The way you define and engage in the work of this country and world defines not only you and your family but St. Andrew's as well.
As adults, with the St. Andrew's experience and spirit in your hearts, you excel in the art of human relations and the art of kindness, compassion, and rescue you fight for justice, generosity, and courage. You live for values, causes, dreams far beyond your own self interest. You moderate your own certainty, your own powerful presumption that you, your judgment, your vision are always correct. You express allyship with citizens, co-workers, neighbors, strangers who face threats and forms of oppression and discrimination and debasement you have never experienced yourself. You read widely and comprehensively so that you can improve your skills of distinguishing fact from fiction, legitimate and measured argument from distortion, lies, and cynicism. You not only care about the health, vitality, and flourishing of the planet and lives of those of future generations, but sacrifice so that life will literally be possible long after we are gone. In an age of division and polarization, you look for fundamental values, foundations of agreement and consensus.
If these values, virtues, civic, national, global commitments seem somehow tarnished, diminished, dismantled in this era, we can in the words of Commencement speaker Heather Mitchell "stay woke" -- we can defeat cynicism, detachment, indifference, and negativity by living, asserting, exploring, defining a better way, one aligned to the pursuit of goodness and sacred principles of citizenship and grace.
This Reunion reminds us that each St. Andrew's class and generation in its turn provides leadership and vision for the continued emergence of the mission, philosophy, and performance of the school.
As trustees, as alumni, as literally those responsible for the support of this community, you come together each year, literally and metaphorically, to support the school through the Annual Fund, through capital efforts, through admissions cultivation all across the world.
At your best, you as alumni rejoice in the fact that the school has out performed every American boarding school in our articulation and enactment of educational excellence; you understand that the school's approach to financial aid, teaching and learning, and the values of a diverse all residential community have never been more coherent or compelling. At your best, you understand that the privilege of St. Andrew's involves giving back: opening doors of opportunity for future generations to find inspiration and meaning and direction here. At your best, you honor the teachers that made all the difference in your lives by making it possible for a new generation of teachers to discover the magic of this school and share their lives with the community.
In 1929, St. Andrew's answered the panic of the Great Depression with the creation of a school open to those without wealth, power, and influence. The opening of St. Andrew's School was an act of philanthropy designed to change the lives of young people living in an age of uncertainty, scarcity, and fear.
In 2017, St. Andrew's answers a world of fragmentation, distortion, distraction, and cynicism with an assertion of generosity, understanding, humanity, and service.
In 2017, St. Andrew's trustees, alumni, parents, and past parents announce that it is time, long past time, for a new era of philanthropy and generosity designed to secure financial aid, teaching and learning excellence, the reimagination of Amos Hall, and the full exploration of our all residential community. I need you all, I am counting on you all to help me make giving back to St. Andrew's as central to our ethos as all the remarkable assertions and expressions of creativity and kindness you together brought to this community. For giving, like honoring the earth, fighting for human rights, promoting peace and understanding and reconciliation, is an act of moral and ethical commitment and concern.
So yes, go forth tomorrow to fill this nation and world with the virtues and habits of mind and heart it yearns for: read, live generously, defeat the worship of self, and rescue the art of seeing and imagining and honoring the other. And remember that we in the school of today fight hard for grace every single day and we are going to need you, all of you, to make this opportunity endure for all who follow us.