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“Until"-- a word so short that it seems insignificant.

“What can we take from such a tiny word?" asked Headmaster Dennis Manning via Zoom.

In his chapels for Middle and Upper School students to close out the Year of Belonging, a year that will forever be associated with the global pandemic and the upheaval in school life that it engendered, Mr. Manning offered a reflection on the powerful force of that five-letter word, noting its usage in a central tenet of the school's Philosophy & Objectives.  

He explained the etymology of the word's two parts. “Un," meaning “not" or a “stopping of your action," and “til," which originates from the notion of a “goal or limit." So the word contains the idea of continuing activity, stopping only upon achieving an end goal.

The word is a critical hinge in the construction of a core lesson in one of the school's objectives: “To foster a sense of responsibility for service to others, first through respect for self and then for every other member of the community until unselfishness of thought and action becomes habit."

That pithy lesson on service begins with a focus on respect for yourself, Mr. Manning noted, a surprising first step on a journey toward generosity of spirit. Self-respect extends outward to encompass respect for every other member of the community. The sentence then reaches the conjunction, “until" and offers the final goal, “unselfishness of thought and action" as a habit of living.

“I would hold that up as extraordinarily important, maybe the most important, objective that we have for you," Mr. Manning said.

He also observed that students and faculty have been living in a state of “until-ness," awaiting the time when the school community will be reunited. He put a spotlight on Wednesday, Aug. 26, the first day of the upcoming school year, when “the school is brought back to life again."

Mr. Manning also showed a slideshow reviewing highlights of the Year of Belonging, which brought a meaningful reminder of the many events before March, as well as the innovation and enthusiasm demonstrated by students and parents, as well as faculty and staff, to keep the learning lively through the final months of distance learning.

Enjoy the Year of Belonging Slideshow from our official YouTube Channel.


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