This week I am turning over an introduction to Xander Bartone, the student president of the Executive Council (the Upper School’s student government.) With other members of the Executive Council standing with him, Xander gave the following message. I thought it was important enough to share with the wider community.
Mr. Drisko/John Drisko
Assistant Head of School & Head of the Upper School
At the end of last week, the Executive Council discussed the tension that we felt in NYA about this presidential election. We decided, after much thought, to address the Upper School. We promise this won’t take long, but we really would love for you guys to listen and to take what we are about to say into consideration. It’s that important.
Obviously this was a very divisive election. As polar opposites, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton promoted different visions of America and that sharply divided this country and it even seeped into this school. As such, there’s a wide range of emotions that are being felt right now: exultation by Trump supporters, disappointment by Clinton supporters. These emotions, they’re understandable.
But now is the time to accept the election’s results and to move on. Trump is the next president of the United States. Simple as that. We need to begin, all of us, to focus on the positive, unifying changes that can be accomplished. As a small community, I believe it’s really important to reconcile our divisions, or at least, to take advantage of the multitude of opinions that exist in this environment. The only way to do that is by engaging in meaningful, difficult conversations both civilly and respectfully.
I want to stress that the only way forward is to rid ourselves of this uncooperative partisan division. We must talk sensibly and rationally with the people we disagree with. We might not change anyone’s views, but this is no excuse for being close-minded and intolerant of opinions that run contrary to our own. NYA is a community with a great array of ideas, and we should use those to grow and develop and mature. We must constructively debate about candidates and about policy, not ignore and belittle others. Listening to opposite opinions is crucial to understanding and bettering your own.
It’s also critical that we not let these debates degenerate into shouting matches and name-calling, where, at the conclusion, we press the “unfriend” button or just ignore the person we were talking with. I’ve watched this process unfold countless times in the past few days. This is not the way that anything gets accomplished, no matter how immediately satisfying this behavior can be. If you fundamentally disagree on something, explain why, try to bring the other person over to your side. It is okay to agree to disagree. A democracy thrives on differing opinions.
Recently, Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” The “they” that I refer to is not Donald Trump, it is our close-mindedness. “Going low” by only engaging with those you agree with might be easy, or comfortable, but it’s small to narrow your mindset by ignoring oppositional ideas. This world is a complicated one, and refusing to engage in rational debates is simply a head-in-the-sand way of ignoring all complications. Unity and progress are only accomplished through listening and discussion. We must engage in difficult conversations, we must move forwards, we must go high.
As an executive body, we really do hope that we can all take this to heart and act in an open-minded, tolerant manner.
FINAL DRESS DOWN DAY FOR HOLIDAY FAMILIES
Our final Dress Down Day for Holiday Families will be this Wednesday, December 7. Each year, this is a wonderful community effort that supports families in need during the holidays. Advisory groups agree to purchase needed items for members of particular families. In this way, families receive personalized gifts suitable for the particular people in the family. Karen Messick should receive the lion’s share of thanks for her organizational efforts. But almost every member of the community is involved in some way. Thank you to all who are involved.
A final Dress Down Day will be on Thursday, December 15. This one is organized by the Key Club and joins many other local Key Clubs to support The Preble Street Teen Center in Portland – a very worthy cause.
REQUEST FOR RIDES FOR A STUDENT VOLUNTEER
Senior Amber Liu, a candidate for a Diploma with Distinction in Global Citizenship, is hoping to volunteer several afternoons per week throughout the coming months at Deering High School, but she does not have transportation from NYA to Deering. She would be helping immigrant and refugee students with their school work, college applications, etc., to fulfill the service requirement of the Diploma with Distinction in Global Citizenship. The days are flexible, but the time she would need a ride to Deering would be right after the Upper School day ends, around 2:45-3:00. Please contact Patia Maule if you are able to help either on a set day of the week or on an ad hoc basis. Thank you!
THE ACADEMY FUND
Thank you to everyone who has supported the Academy Fund thus far. Click this link to learn about the Academy Fund in 100 words. Our goal for the year is to raise $282,000 with 100% parent participation. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact Randall Thomas, Annual Giving Officer.
OPEN SKATES AT TRAVIS ROY ARENA
As a reminder, Alex Kloza (Ice Arena Manager) and Caroline Anson (Alumni Relations) have arranged for a series of open skates for alumni and families. Families are also invited to bring friends and neighbors. Open skate dates are as follows:
Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016, 3:20 – 4:20 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
For more information, please contact Caroline Anson. HELMETS ARE REQUIRED. No sticks, please.
MORNING FORUM WITH THE HEAD OF SCHOOL
December 9 from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. in the Middle School Community Room
Come meet NYA’s School Counselor, Kate Danielson, and learn about what she does on campus. Kate and Ben will also discuss health and wellness initiatives. Come with questions, comments, or just to listen.
FOR YOUR PLANNING
|12/7||Dress Down Day to benefit Holiday Families
Math Meet # 3 at Freeport H.S.
|12/9||Parents’ Association Morning Forum with the Head||8:00 a.m. in MSCR|
|12/9||Senior Speeches: Suzanna Butterfield, Grace Dexter, Haven Cutko||10:15 in the Gym|
|12/13||Upper School Winter Concert||6:30 in the Gym|
|12/15||Dress Down Day for the Preble Street Teen Center|
|12/16||Senior Speeches: Chandler Waldron, Galen Arnold||10:15 in the Gym|
|12/16||Last day of classes for the first semester.|
|12/17||NYA Family and Friends Open Skate at the Rink||3:20 – 4:20|
|12/17||Alumni Winter Sports Day||4:30 – 6:30|
|1/3/2017||Classes resume on Tuesday, January 3; Second Semester begins|