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

Tad Roach

 

This talk was delivered by Tad at our first virtual Wednesday night Chapel service on March 25, 2020.


It is an honor to speak with you at the end of our third day of virtual classes this week. I know I speak for every member of the faculty when I say that the very sight of each one of you joining class, greeting classmates, and forming your learning teams was the most miraculous moment of the week. All of us have responded to my call to bring the St. Andrew’s spirit to life this week.
 
As we celebrate the return of our Wednesday night Chapel tradition, I am grateful to our Chapel team of Jay Hutchinson, Odile Jacob, Quinn Kerrane, and Terence Gilheany and Michael Amos and our technology team for bringing us all together.
 
Throughout the history of St. Andrew’s, the Chapel has served as a sanctuary for hope, perspective, redemption, reflection, prayer in the School, and particularly so when we as a community faced uncertainty, fear, and doubt. 
 
We come together here every Wednesday and Sunday during the school year to build a foundation of faith, humanity, and love that directs us to live for goodness, service towards others, and generosity in our lives. It is here where we find unity in our beautiful diversity, hear powerful student, faculty, staff, and guest reflections, and emerge with new hope, new energy, and new spirit. 
 
And to build a foundation of the spirit, we have to work, reflect, listen, and open ourselves to the inspiration and wisdom of all voices and religious traditions. 
 
That communication, fellowship, and unity bring us naturally here when we seek clarity, coherence, and healing.
 
When we meet personal, familial, national or international crises, we rely on this foundation of love, humanity, courage and faith to direct us. St. Andreans came here during World War II, gathered here on the morning of September 11th, and we found the strength to be a witness for faith, hope, and reason in a violent and chaotic world. 
 
Tonight, we come together as St. Andreans to pray and reflect: 
 
We will pray for and reflect on the courage, love, professionalism, and intelligence of medical providers throughout the world; as we do so, we will support shelter in place, stay at home regulations designed to stop the spread of the virus, and give our doctors and nurses the opportunity and equipment to heal patients.
 
We pray for strength and healing for those who are ill with the coronavirus; we pray for patients’ families and loved one.
 
We pray for global leaders and their discernment and courage, urging them to think broadly and generously of others, to act for the good of humanity.
 
We pray for members of this St. Andrew’s extended family—particularly tonight, we give thanks for the beautiful life of Michael Evans ’98; we pray for his family: his partner, parents, and sister, the Class of 1998, and the Board of Trustees in their loss and grief. 
 
We pray for those in the world most vulnerable to the virus: those all religions see as their responsibility: the homeless, the oppressed, the incarcerated, the refugees, the elderly, the children, the poor. 
 
We look in this difficult time for the beauty and majesty of life to reassert itself and make us understand that everything we may have once taken for granted is precious and full of meaning.
 
Tonight I want to share a couple of poems with you. The first is “One Day” by Laura Foley.
 
One Day

I didn't read the news.
I raked a rainbow
of pungent autumn leaves,
played abroad with happy dogs,
held my granddaughter in my arms,
and sat beneath an amiable maple,
attentive to current events.

 
We know that we have questions uppermost in our minds, and they are tied to the questions associated with time: How long will we remain as a country and world in a state of emergency? How long will we need to commit to social distancing? How long will the school year remain in virtual form? How long will it take to level off the surge of the virus? How long will the virus actually be with us? 
 
These are good questions, natural questions, questions for our best researchers, doctors, health care providers. 
 
But in this poem, the speaker takes a break from the news. It seems a deliberate decision, not to withdraw, but to look for and open herself up to meaning in a different way. Perhaps this will be a one day decision, or perhaps what she learns when she discerns hope, love, and meaning in the ordinary will be so extraordinary that one day will lead to another, to a sense of hope and expectation that revitalizes her.
 
The poet beautifully contrasts the news (the day to day struggles, concerns, emergencies) with those elements in life that remind us of the miraculous.
 
As my class discussed this poem with me and Mr. Speers yesterday, we explored the way the text captures the essence of all we really need each day, the gifts of family and nature. The images of nature are full of color, energy, animation, and life—we are dazzled by the description of the explosion of a rainbow of colors, matched by the beautiful autumnal air and smell of leaves being raked. The wild happiness of playing abroad (fully, completely) with happy dogs and the serenity and peace as the speaker holds her granddaughter in her arms, and the amiable welcome of the maple remind us that we are surrounded by moments that give us peace, grace, and meaning. The tree, it seems, is there forever.
 
Mason McKee ’21 remarked that the whole poem sounded so much like the voice and call of Dr. McLean to us all on a trip down to the pond or a walk in the woods. And of course Mason and Dr. McLean were absolutely right. 
 
I sent a letter to past parents this week, wishing them health, and sharing love from St. Andrew’s. I received so many beautiful and inspiring replies, and in one response I received the best gift, a copy of a Czeslaw Milosz  poem entitled “Hope”, friend Dean Crawford, former Professor of English at Vassar College, sent it to me. I would like to end my talk with this reading:
 
Hope

Hope is with you when you believe
The earth is not a dream but living flesh,
That sight, touch and hearing do not lie, 
That all things you have ever seen here
Are like a garden looked at from a gate.
 
You cannot enter. But you’re sure it’s there.
Could we but look more clearly and wisely
We might discover somewhere in the garden
A strange new flower and an unnamed star.
 
Some people say we should not trust our eyes,
That there is nothing, just a seeming,
These are the ones who have no hope.
They think that the moment we turn away,
The world, behind our backs, ceases to exist,
As if snatched up by the hands of thieves.

 
The poem carefully delineates hope as a sacred gift: this kind of hope is not based on a random or desperate wish or a desire to be immediately released from confusion or pain. Rather, hope is related to the foundation of love each of us has experienced in our lives: “sight, touch, and hearing do not lie”.
 
Once we remember these experiences are with us, we may be separated from them by circumstances beyond our control (the garden you cannot enter), but we know, for certain that hope is there. All we have to do is learn to look more closely and more wisely: 
 
“You cannot enter. But you’re sure it’s there.
Could we but look more clearly and wisely
We might discover somewhere in the garden
A strange new flower and an unnamed star.”

 
Without hope, it is clear, we miss everything, literally everything that makes us human and dynamic and creative.

So tonight, St. Andrew’s, live with your eyes wide open to the miraculous that has happened in your life, the miraculous that happened today, and the miraculous that will continue to reveal itself over the coming days and weeks.

  • Headmaster News
Elizabeth Roach

This is what I learned this week:

I learned that we have amazing students to teach. I learned that students love being in a classroom space (even if it’s virtual) with their teachers and classmates. I learned that students want to feel—as they always do—challenged, inspired, and a sense of wonder as they engage in the learning process.

I learned that if we ask them authentic questions and engage them in authentic thinking and projects, they will respond with illuminating responses. I learned that they love the integration of direct instruction and independent thinking. I learned that they appreciate teachers’ openness, creativity, flexibility, care, and support. I learned that students love individual attention.

I learned that we have a fantastic faculty who are eager to learn, develop, and grow alongside our students and with each other.

I learned that we have a strong, unbreakable, trusting, miraculous community flourishing despite the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced.

I learned all of this even though I knew all of this already. 

  • Teaching and Learning Letters
Liz Torrey

I hope this letter finds you and your families healthy, and together managing the many new challenges and responsibilities we all confront and carry during this complex time.
 
Over each one of these intense and difficult days of the global and national health crisis, we at St. Andrew’s have worked to provide your children and your family with hope, perspective, and a generous web of community support. 
 
Collectively, we are determined to draw upon the deep reservoir of love and strength you have created in your families, and we have created here at St. Andrew’s. Together, we will live and learn through this crisis with our full humanity, compassion, and grace.
 
We had a good first week of virtual teaching and learning. For all of us on the faculty, the return to our classrooms and the arrival, one by one, of our remarkable students gave us great joy and appreciation for the privilege and honor of accompanying students at this time in their lives. 
 
For those of you who are teachers, or for those of you who have taught at some time in your careers, you know that great teachers are always learning, adjusting, and revising. We review and develop our teaching strategies from day to day and week to week, all in the pursuit of even more dynamic moments of learning in our classes. That is exactly what we are doing today: collaborating with colleagues; studying student work and engagement; planning for Monday.
 
This has also been a week that featured the first Wednesday evening Chapel service of the spring, led by Chaplain Jay Hutchinson and organist Odile Jacob. I attach my remarks from that service: I explored the place of the Chapel, the soul, and the spirit in moments of crisis, and sought to help the students see the miracles of nature and family that surround us every day; I sought to suggest that hope is a sacred gift bestowed upon us by all the blessings we have already received in our lives. 
 
On Sunday evening, we will have our first School Meeting of the spring. School Co-Presidents Billy Ewles ’20 and Steph Tanoh ’20 have worked closely with senior class leaders and Dean of Student Life Will Robinson on the energy and creativity of the meeting, and Piper Jackman ’21 is coordinating our technology for the occasion.
 
Our advisors will be eager to talk to advisees about the first week of classes in their sessions with students in the coming week, and of course we encourage you as parents to contact advisors if you have any concerns with your child’s transition back to school. We realize that in this complex time, you as parents and your children may well be adjusting to a variety of new challenges and concerns. We are here to help you find the support and encouragement your child needs.
 
St. Andrew’s counselors are in contact with students this week as well. For both legal and liability reasons, they cannot do counseling of the kind they do when students are present with them in offices; what they can and will do virtually is to check in regularly with students who need them, offer important perspective and approaches to students and parents, help coordinate ways for students to find counseling resources in their local areas, and of course provide important wellness advice and practices. Just today, our counselors reached out to the student body with information on how best to connect and contact them.
 
This has also been a week that opened St. Andrew’s Admissions Virtual Visit Back Day process. You as parents have done such powerful work cultivating and supporting new families’ interest in St. Andrew’s. You somehow know just the students and families that will find inspiration and meaning here, and in these critical days ahead, so many of you are making calls to prospective parents and students on our behalf. We thank you for all you do for St. Andrew’s Admissions.
 
Next Thursday evening, April 2, at 7:00 p.m., I will speak to you as parents and answer questions you may have at this time. I will write again next week a share a link to this virtual event. I look forward to the opportunity of connecting with all of you once again.
 
With hope, appreciation, and gratitude,

Tad

  • Coronavirus News
Saints Spotlight: Phineas Hunt ’22
Liz Torrey

 

Phineas Hunt ’22 comes to St. Andrew's from San Fransisco, California. The below interview was recorded in the spring of 2019, at the end of his III Form (freshman) year at St. Andrew's. Since then, Phineas has continued to compete with the Saints football, indoor track, and lacrosse teams. He was a Second Team All-Conference selection in lacrosse in spring 2019; a First Team All-Conference selection at defensive tackle in football during his fall 2019 sophomore season; and this winter, Phineas competed in the indoor track state tournament in shot put. He was the only sophomore in the state competing with Flight 4, the furthest throwing group, at a meet of 60 teams, and "demolished his PR by throwing almost a full 2 1/2 feet farther than he had all year with a monster throw of 44' 8.25," recalled indoor track Assistant Coach Pat Moffitt. This catapulted him into a four place finish. When he's not crushing it athletically and academically, Phin can be found having fun with his roommates on Baum Corridor, mentoring students at a local elementary school, and giving tours for the Admission Office.

I started off in the fall as a football player, and my coaches suggested running track in the winter, just so I could stay in shape. My older brother had thrown shot put and I always thought it would be a fun thing to try, so I signed up. I knew that there wasn't an official "shot-putting team," so I talked to my coach asked if it was possible like to get a shot put and practice and he said "Oh yeah, we can do that if that's something you're interested in." 

So I started with that, and then two other seniors started throwing shot put with me, so it was the three of us throwing shot put, and we had a blast. It was really fun because we were doing a lot of the running and sprinting exercises, but we were also doing our own thing as like a group. We would lift and go outside and throw. It was nice being in a small group because I got to know those people a lot better. My [St. Andrew's] big brother, Thomas Cunningham ’19, was actually one of the shot-putters. So it was nice getting to hang out with him, and then I also got to hang out with the other seniors. That was really cool.

I wasn't sure what to expect because I had never been to a track meet, so I just went to the first meet and I got up and I threw. I think I threw like 32 feet. So it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't amazing either. But I think I got like second or third, so I was really happy with that, and sort of surprised. I just kept working and improving. And by the end of the season I think I threw 36 feet. In shot put, that's a pretty big improvement.

For shot put, the minimum cut that you need to make the state tournament is 40 feet. And then you're like automatically in at 42 feet. So that's definitely something I'm working towards, especially because I want to get to compete against the best people in the state.

I really want—since the two other shot-putters I started with have graduated—to maybe recruit some new people, maybe off the football team—people who don't really have a dedicated winter sport—to just try and grow the team. It would just be a lot more fun if we had a group of guys that did this thing. I just want to get more people into it.

Something that I really enjoyed coming in as a freshman, is that I was put in a starting position in football and lacrosse. Even as a young athlete, you can be put into like in a leadership role at St. Andrew's, and that's something that I hadn't expected. Coming here to a very small school, everybody—seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshman—they're all playing and that's something that I really like. I wasn't expecting to be put into such a leadership role, but I think being thrown into it like made me a better player in both football and lacrosse. 

Winning the Cannon with the football team was just a great experience. I didn't understand how much it really meant, to not just the football team, but to everybody at St. Andrew’s. It's our biggest game. And being able to win it for the first time in four years, it's such a big thing. So it was just a really great thing. Also, I felt really close with the senior class, so being able to win it for them, just as they're about to leave, was something really special.

  • All School News
  • Coed Indoor Track
  • Homepage News
  • Meet a Saint
  • Student Voices
Saints Spotlight: Christine Wu ’20
Liz Torrey

 

Christine Wu ’20 grew up in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. During her four years at St. Andrew's, she's made contributions to practically every aspect of school life: she plays in the school Orchestra; she is a Residential Leader on III Form (freshman) girls dorm; she volunteers with our Adapted Aquatics program; and she is a leader within the St. Andrew's rowing program. Christine recently shared her rowing journey at SAS, from her discovery of the sport to her future as a collegiate rower.

Freshman year, I ran cross-country, but then tore my meniscus. So I kind of had to stop running. But I still played basketball in the winter. In the spring, I started to row. I liked it, but I wouldn’t say that I fell in love with it immediately. But that was the spark that set me on this path to really love rowing.

Rowing's a very intricate and different sport than anything else. If you mess up, it's kind of a whole team thing, so there's a little bit of pressure [on everyone]. But, if you collectively work together and are never off, you feel the power, and you want to go even harder. You're just bonded together automatically—you become so close with those nine girls in your boat, and with Coach Berl—and it's unlike any other sport in that way.

[Coach Berl] talks a lot about showing kindness towards each other, which creates this safe community on the team. At the same time, we're also pushing ourselves to be competitive with each other and pushing each other to go deeper and go harder each practice, but the atmosphere she’s created allows us to do that. And, during our winter training, we only strengthen our friendships with each other. Some of those friendships have led me to become the rower I am today.

Coach Berl emphasizes working on really intricate technique, which sets you up for a good future [in rowing]. In the summers, I row at Community Rowing Inc., in Boston, which is a lot more competitive, because their team is double the size—that makes it much harder to be in the best boat. But because Coach Berl focuses so much on our technique, that gives us a leg up when we’re rowing for any other team. So rowing at St. Andrew’s will definitely help you in tremendous ways when you go out into the big rowing world.

Last winter, I rowed at a Youth Regional Challenge in Sarasota, Florida. They bring people all across the region, and I applied and got in, so I represented the mid-Atlantic. We had a week for practice—you have two practices in the day—and then we raced against all the regions. 

I really wanted to continue to row [after St. Andrew’s] because it's made such a big impact on me and I don't really see myself stopping. Coach Berl has helped me so much with my journey to rowing in college, by reaching out to coaches and talking with me about my options. Next year I will be rowing at Dartmouth, which is an absolute dream come true. I can’t imagine going a day or two without rowing, even if it’s just grabbing a buddy and taking out a single or double. It's calming for me…  after practice, we're just filled with happiness. 
 

  • All School News
  • Girls Crew News
  • Homepage News
  • Meet a Saint
  • Student Voices