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Upper School Blog

A New Year

Ben Dougherty
Last week in our first community meeting back after returning from our winter break, the whole community took a moment of silence to reflect on the year behind us and the year ahead. Everyone in the auditorium was asked to think of a hope they have for themselves for the coming year and what they can do to achieve that goal. As we opened that meeting I shared that whether it was the ancient Babylonians, 4,000 years ago, or the Romans more than 2,000 years ago, or some other people who were the first to make New Year's resolutions in the form of promises to the gods, for several thousand years, people all around the world have reflected on the year behind them, forgiven others, and resolved to make better those things that they have control over.

I shared with students that I have not always been a believer in making New Year’s resolutions, and that I used to scoff at the idea. I have come to believe that this time of year is as good a time as any to reflect on what I can do to be a better version of myself. I went on to share three of my new year's resolutions this year. 1) I plan to get better, more consistent nights of sleep; 2) I am focusing on being well hydrated every day; and 3) I will use my phone less at home in order to be more present and engaged (something that is as much for my family as myself).

Our Community Meetings have become an increasingly important time for students and faculty to share pieces of themselves and for us to coalesce around our shared values. Most weeks, in addition to celebrating each other’s successes and inspiring one another with ideas, we also hear from various community members who share their This I Believe reflections. This past week, Alex Hunton, our choral music teacher, and Stephanie Collins, a current senior, both shared their reflections. Just as others have done this year, each spoke of the experiences and ideas that have shaped who they have become. With humor, self-deprecation and impressive insight, they both shared their unique journeys, including triumphs and disappointments and by doing so, inspired others in our community to reflect on their own journey’s and have hope for the future.

In her recent speech at the Golden Globes, Oprah said “In my career, what I've always tried my best to do, whether on television or through film, is to say something about how men and women really behave. To say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, and how we overcome. I've interviewed and portrayed people who've withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights.” We all benefit from having “hope for a brighter morning” and a sense of purpose to motivate and inspire us to continually be our best selves. Sharing common experiences helps us to find inspiration from those around us. As we settle into 2018 and ponder the goals we have set for ourselves, I wish for each of us that we find joy and connection in those pursuits, whatever they may be.

Ben Dougherty
Head of Upper School
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The Derryfield School

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