January 6, 2021
Dear Faculty and Families,
Today’s events in Washington D.C. are nothing short of horrific. Since 1797, our country has practiced the peaceful transfer of power, with both elected leaders and patriotic citizens ensuring this essential rite of our democracy.
Today, a group of people broke the law and violated this centuries-old tradition by storming the Capitol, causing evacuation and lockdown. As of this writing, a woman has been shot and killed, a devastating outcome of this violence.
This breach of our laws and of our national norms is unacceptable on every level. Our democracy relies on peaceful protest. What took place in Washington today goes well beyond protest and undermines our values.
Tomorrow, our faculty will be ready to engage with our students in age-appropriate ways, and I am grateful to our history faculty, Duane Bailey-Castro and Cambridge Lynch, for providing helpful context. Today's events remind us of the vital work that we engage in every day in our classrooms and the culture of love and respect that are at the heart of our school. Each day, our teachers model good citizenship, educate our students about the promise of a more just and hopeful future, and equip them to help create that future.
I advise that parents of young children limit their exposure to news reports and other media and affirm their sense of safety while still listening to the questions they may have. In addition, older students, as well as the adults in our community, are likely disheartened by the apparent difference in the way these individuals have been treated compared with the protesters that marched for racial justice this summer. This disparity adds to the troubling nature of today's events.
Overall, our abiding message for our children is to reassure them that they are safe, and to reaffirm our belief in the sacredness of every member of our community. Our nation has seen conflict and strife before; we have endured, and will continue to do so, because good and wise people stand up for truth and justice. It is our job as a community to do just that.
Our school counselor, Valerie Morel, and our chaplain, Arden Strasser, are available for consultation with students or parents.
From the Book of Common Prayer:
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit
may so move every human heart
[and especially the hearts of the people of this land],
that barriers which divide us may crumble,
suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease;
that our divisions being healed,
we may live in justice and peace.
Appointed in 1993, Virginia Connor is the longest serving female head of an ongoing school in New York City. She is a graduate of Teachers College Columbia University and Wheelock College.
Virginia has been an educator in New York City independent schools since 1981 and has taught every elementary grade. She has been a director of lower school, a director of middle school, an admission officer, and a director of curriculum development.