The One About Whether Sandy Spring Friends School is a Bubble

The following is excerpted from Tom Gibian’s remarks at the Sandy Spring Friends School Beginning of Year All-School Assembly, Sept. 11, 2018

From time to time, I get to talk to people about Sandy Spring Friends School. I get very excited. I love this place. It is my beloved community. You are my beloved community.

What this means is that every time I come on campus, every day when I am here with you, I feel a pull to be my best self. I look for the Light within. Within each of you. And when you look at me and you see the Light within me I know that I am where I am supposed to be. This place, this day, I am where I have been called to be.

And, from time to time, someone will ask me “Is Sandy Spring Friends School a bubble”? This question is sometimes asked with a degree of skepticism. Underlying the question is this notion that if Sandy Spring Friends School is too nice, too pleasant, too understanding then, when students are no longer here, they will not be prepared for the real world. We will have somehow disadvantaged them.

Yes, Sandy Spring Friends School is a bubble. And this is why.

Through the reading of history, literature, and poetry; through the study of social and natural sciences; and through building community through the arts, athletics, and service, we are launched on a path of self-discovery. We walk this path understanding that we are both privileged and blessed. Privileged because we will have a whole life time of learning; that we have the gift of time and that we will use it to deepen our understanding of the world so that we may make it more like the world we want. And blessed because we do not fear anyone, we are secure because we know that we are precious and that which makes us precious is not rare or limited; it is within each of us and it is great, natural and special.

Here, we develop a respect for and an understanding of traditions, our own and those that are not our own. Through inquiry, reflection and dialogue we develop a respect for and an understanding of sacred things and of secular truths. A Sandy Spring Friends School education is the cultivation of all that it means to be human: to grow, to reason, to feel, to seek answers, to solve problems, to care, to love, to understand, to express, and most of all, to act.

Yes, we are in the Sandy Spring bubble but it does not have a hard shell; it is not impermeable or rigid or stiff. It does not repel. The Sandy Spring Friends School bubble welcomes, embraces, shelters and warms. It is also a launch pad to discover the best in all of us. It is our beloved community.

We expect a lot from you. We are awfully glad you are here.

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