Grateful for Groundhog Day

February 11, 2021

For me, 2021’s Groundhog Day this year summoned thoughts not of the hibernating rodent but of Bill Murray in the movie, and the feeling we are all experiencing that is well-described here in this Washington Post article about the “pandemic wall.” Here, in 2021, we wake up again and again, in the same scene and yet seemingly imperceptibly moving forward towards the end of this marathon. But as in the movie, Bill Murray’s character does finally get to turn the page after he learns to pay attention, learn from, and ultimately appreciate the long and hard winter. On his final repeated day, his character, Phil, stands in front of the camera and says: 

“When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.”

Surrendering to the monotony meant he learned to be grateful and to be present. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t a movie, so we can’t quite end this scene, but with that said, we’ve all learned a lot about priorities, about what matters in our lives, in our school, and in our community. During this period, we’ve all experienced falling down, going above and beyond, summoning up more when we are running on fumes, deep gratitude for what we have, quiet joy, and more moments to read, play a board game, watch the snowfall. We’ve learned about how the systems in our world work to advantage or disadvantage people, about tough ethical dilemmas, about the fallibility of systems put in place with good intentions and philosophies but with possible harmful impacts. We’ve probably also had a lot of – shall we say – tense moments in our households, and with friends, extended family, colleagues, and neighbors. It’s all part of a collective experience, perhaps, with grief, and impatience, and patience too. 

Here at school, our students remind us how much does continue to grow and change, and this enlivens us as we strive to move from endurance to emergence.

  • This month, our online Upper School performance of The Laramie Project gets its belated premiere as blocking begins for Into the Woods, to be performed outdoors this spring.
  • Senior Kate Keenan scored her 1,524th point and became the highest-ever female Warrior scorer in the history of our basketball program.
  • Hamilton 8th graders are budding entrepreneurs with Noticeability.
  • The 18 Wheelers once again featured on the Best of High School A cappella: 2021 Compilation.
  • More than 80% of our senior class has already been admitted to college – a group of schools that includes over 160 colleges and universities.
  • Scholastic art and writing awards are being offered to our talented writers and painters,
  • Our math-letes are killing it across New England,
  • 86% of our Upper School students are participating in Aerie courses such as Neuroscience, Evolution of Plant Diversity, and Expressive Arts Therapy.
  • We have young people from Cityside out in Providence learning how cities withstand a pandemic, make hard ethical decisions, and where history has something to teach.
  • And there are snow mounds to be tackled by our most eager Lower School students! 

While we all miss the electric buzz of our campus that goes along with being clustered in spaces together and the energy we give each other, the bright spots are still bright. Learning goes undeterred because we have important work to do and our kids know it.

Until spring comes (come on, spring!), we lock arms and continue to put one foot in front of the other. Hang in there! 

By Allison Gaines Pell,
Head of School

Woman smiling with hand under her chin.

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