Welcome Remarks from Tom Gibian, Head of School

The following remarks were delivered at Sandy Spring Friends School’s all-school beginning-of-year assembly. 

Welcome to our first All School Assembly that marks the beginning of our 2017-18 school year.

It is so good to have everyone back, bright eyed and ready for a year of growing, learning, playing, friendship, challenge, light bulbs going off, new tricks learned, boundaries stretched, discoveries made, laughter, perhaps a little sadness and an ounce of humility, or at least I hope so. Learning is great but it is not always easy. If everything about learning and growing up was easy, if you never felt challenged, if you never got knocked down then it would be very difficult for you to make a contribution, to make the world better, to make the world more beautiful. Imagine this. What you learn is important but it is not nearly as important as how you learn. How you learn is important but not nearly as important as that you learn to learn and love to learn. Look around at the adults, every one of them is here because they both love to learn and love to help others learn to learn. It’s pretty special.

Each of you has a Great Natural Talent that is waiting to be discovered. If you have already discovered it, and some of you have because I have seen you singing on the stage, protesting on the mall, discovering in the lab and making room at your table in the dining hall for the friend you have not yet made, your job has only begun because you will have a life time of practicing, polishing and perfecting these gifts while discovering new ones both in yourself and in others. Again, that is what your teachers do and that is why they have so much to offer and that is why what we are all doing here is so honorable and why this community of learners is so important.

There is one thing that I want to remind everyone about and that is that this is your school. This is where you are supposed to be. Your job is to work hard because, when you are grown up and it is your turn, we will need you to be fully engaged making this world better, cleaner, kinder and more fair. Our job, at Sandy Spring Friends School, is to make sure that you know how much we welcome you, how much we care about you, how much faith we have in you because we know that what you feel when you are part of a loving community is rocket fuel for the trip you are taking to places not yet discovered.

I remember the one time I went fly fishing in Utah, I was walking in the river bed on round, really slippery rocks. I commented that I was afraid that I was going to fall. The guy I was with yelled back at me that there were no fisherman that hadn’t fallen in the river. So have a great year. Good luck fishing. And don’t worry about falling, it’s part of learning. Almost as important as the learning that happens when we get back up.

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