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An Episcopal, co-educational 100% boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12

Joy McGrath ’92
  • Head of School's Blog
Joy McGrath ’92

Dear Families,

I am the luckiest head of school in the world! Spring is always a time of new growth and opportunities, but I feel that at St. Andrew’s, we have more of that than most places. In the past week or so, we have experienced Easter, an earthquake (I felt it ever so slightly in my feet during a meeting with French teacher Pam Pears), an eclipse.

The important change is not always so sudden or dramatic as the resurrection or a natural phenomenon. Sometimes it is steady and small, but surprises you nonetheless. Sitting in the dining hall at dinner this week, I couldn’t help but see how our students have grown so much this year. I see them changing—as do you—right before my very eyes, all in good and positive ways. Like the emerging leaves and chirping ospreys, it gives you hope.

The school year is circular in its way, with lots of opportunity for gratitude. This week we felt that with a successful Day of Giving (thank you!) and an enrollment deadline that passed quietly on Wednesday with a very full school and a new crop of brilliant and gritty students who are looking for a place that will challenge them and love them and their voices and their stories. During a wonderful session with seniors during one of the Visit Back Days, I found myself getting a little emotional about the departure of the Class of 2024, but “as circular as hope,” I know our newest Saints will arrive and make us all proud, too.

That phrase, “as circular as hope,” is from a poem I’ve been re-reading this week, one of Mary Oliver’s, titled “Spring.” I pulled it out when my little niece and nephew were visiting this weekend and spotted a snake sticking its head above the moldy leaves by Possum Creek behind my house. But I have kept reading it because it captures this season at this school, in ways literal and metaphorical.


by Mary Oliver
From Poetry (April 1990)

And here is the serpent again,
dragging himself out from his nest of darkness,
His cave under the black rocks,
His winter-death.
He slides over the pine needles.
He loops around the bunches of rising grass,
looking for the sun.

Well, who doesn’t want the sun after the long winter?
I step aside,
He feels the air with his soft tongue,
Around the bones of his body he moves like oil,

downhill he goes
toward the black mirrors of the pond.
Last night it was still so cold
I woke and went out to stand in the yard,
and there was no moon.

So I just stood there, inside the jaw of nothing.
An owl cried in the distance,
I thought of Jesus, how he
crouched in the dark for two nights,
then floated back above the horizon.

There are so many stories,
more beautiful than answers.
I follow the snake down to the pond,

thick and musky he is
as circular as hope.


There are “so many stories, more beautiful than answers,” that lend their grace notes to our every day here at St. Andrew’s. Thank you for being a part of the St. Andrew’s story. I look forward to seeing you around campus this spring, to experience this season with us!

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