Head of School Marcel Gauthier sent the following holiday message to all Country Day parents and faculty and staff on December 11, 2022:
Dear Country Day Community,
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to read a book called What Does Peace Feel Like to Ms. Ilfeld’s and Ms. Gerges’ 3rd grade students. The story asks students to use their senses to imagine, for example, what peace might sound like, look like, or feel like. After we finished reading, I asked the students what peace might be for them. One student talked about playing with friends; another mentioned the sound of the ocean; a third talked about, well, ice cream…and our dialogue continued. I appreciated the chance for students to imagine the experience of peace as a way of illuminating an important theme of the season.
I myself experienced several moments of peace these past weeks. Attending a holiday concert and listening to our students perform was both moving and inspiring and allowed me to appreciate the beauty our students can create. When I welcomed Lower School classes into my home to celebrate the holiday, a long-standing tradition at Country Day, I was struck by all of the learning our teachers invite, even in the simple gesture of creating ornaments for the tree. Reading Mr. Sepkowitz’s weekly message to parents where he associated the evolution of art with the development of our students made me reflect and brought a smile to my face. And having a parent tell me how much her son is thriving in college and how grateful he is for all that his teachers did for him at Country Day—this too gave me a feeling of peace.
The word peace itself resonates with meaning. On an individual level, it suggests freedom from over-arching cares, harmony with friends or family, balance in one’s life, and the opportunity to reflect and to be whole. On a community level, it represents a transcending of differences, the absence of contention, an opportunity for belonging and togetherness. If one researches the origin of the word peace, one can see that, over many centuries, the word has represented all of these elements: the political, the social, the personal, the spiritual...
Our own Affirmation of Community reminds us that at Country Day we strive to create a community where each member feels valued and affirmed. This aspiration itself unites both a personal and a communal experience. To feel a strong sense of belonging is in essence to experience a dimension of peace, a peace that allows one to trust, to learn, to thrive, and to extend that peace to others. To nurture that sense of belonging is crucial to the fulfillment of our mission.
For our older students, this final week before the holiday break—with its exams and final projects—is traditionally more a time of stress than of peace. With that in mind, let us wish all of our students confidence and success! However, as we move into the winter break, I hope everyone in our Country Day community will find opportunities to step away from the din of daily life and to experience and share moments of peace. May your holiday, whatever the traditions that unite you, bring light and joy into the New Year!
Head of School