USM Community Opens with words of kindness

I’m a sucker for a tradition, so I didn’t want to miss this year’s opening day.   The weather cooperated this year as students from all three divisions gathered around a podium outside the Upper School entrance.

The opening ceremony is a time to kick off the theme for the year.  This year’s Common Trust emphasis is Kindness. Head of School Mr. Ghory has (kindly) shared his remarks with me so I can share them with you. I’ve invited the prefects from the class of 2009 to share their comments and I will post them as I receive them.

Here are some thoughts on kindness and the Common Trust from Mr. Ghory:

University School’s community is guided by the values of our Common Trust: respect, trust, honesty, fairness, and kindness.

Kindness is one of those values that is easy to recognize but harder to practice. Everyone knows how grateful and honored you feel when someone has been kind to you. Similarly, everyone can recognize the hurt in the eyes of a friend who has been treated unkindly. When I was a boy, I did not grow up in a school culture that explicitly encouraged kindness: politeness, yes; good manners, yes; but kindness? not really. The unwritten code in my boys school said that competition was constant, teasing was fun, and put-downs were a skill you better master.

Here you are in a school that is reaching for higher ground. We ask you to try pro-actively to be kind: to deliberately and thoughtfully reach out to other people. This is a school that wants you to be good, as well as smart; that wants you to be kind, as well as successful. Let’s make this a community where everyone (students, teachers, parents, and administrators) finds ways to support, rather than criticize; to offer the positive comment, rather than the negative remark; to boost another person, rather than draw attention to yourself. Let’s try to widen the circle around the table, not restrict it; let’s recognize that the newcomer or outsider offers something of rare value, the opportunity for us to grow. At the end of the day, you will appreciate those who were kind to others more than those who were out for themselves.

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