The night before I first arrived at St. Andrew's on Opening Day in 1990, I fell down the stairs from my room in our attic and broke my foot. There is a photograph of me in the 1991 yearbook, sitting on one of the wooden pews in the cloister with my crutches while everyone else participated in the Square Dance. I am talking to my very kind friend Sara and sitting next to another friend Steve, who was also on crutches following surgery that summer. (At least his injury was caused by his athleticism, as opposed to mine, which was entirely due to my gracelessness.) In the photograph, I'm wearing a worn t-shirt printed with the M. C. Escher drawing "Three Worlds," which I must have decided was my coolest item of clothing. Maybe it was a bit chilly, like it is today—which is unusual in Delaware this time of year—because I was wearing a cardigan.
I remember feeling exhilarated and strange; I was still very much myself, but I also had an accelerated sense of becoming. The faculty, the buildings, and the students seemed filled with possibilities and potential. The kindness of my classmates, who must have wanted to be dancing with everyone else, persuaded me that I would belong in this place, and that perhaps I already did.
As we prepare to welcome new students on Sunday, September 5, my feelings about St. Andrew’s have not changed much. Our campus is vibrating with excitement, not least because we are gathering once again as a full community, in person, after a year and a half of pandemic-related disruptions. Riding my bicycle on the paths around the campus, I see the same possibilities and potential in our magnificent human community and our beautiful places and spaces. Faculty members and VI Formers are ready to greet families and unload cars, bringing every last box to new students’ rooms.
I am mindful that our students and their families are making a great sacrifice for a St. Andrew’s education. Members of each new class leave behind their families, schools, and hometowns, ready to join this community, where we pursue excellence and embrace challenges in the service of a purpose greater than ourselves. This is not an easy thing to do. In itself, this act of courage makes St. Andrew’s the place that it is. We have all signed up. We have all opted in. Even though we arrive here from every corner of the country and the world, we all share a strong bond as St. Andreans. It is my hope and expectation that the new students who arrive here on Sunday, who have chosen to be here, will instantly feel that bond, and see our care and concern, just as I did thirty-one years ago.
So if you, too, are vibrating with excitement, and perhaps nerves, know that you will be deeply and warmly welcomed here. And until I get a chance to meet you on Sunday, I am going to be very careful on the stairs.