The Brunswick community joined together on Tuesday, Sept. 14, for a virtual Annual Meeting that offered bundles of gratitude for the work done by so many to enable a full year of in-person learning amid the pandemic, as well as thoughtful reflections on the progression of crisis, challenge, and change.
The event was held virtually for the second consecutive year, with new Chairman of the Board of Trustees W. Robert Berkley, Jr. ’91 (P ’21, ’23) delivering his report from Baker Theater.
As he reflected on the events of the last year, Berkley praised the tireless efforts of Brunswick’s faculty, staff, and administration, as well as the parent body, during arguably the most unique and challenging year in the history of the school.
“Your tremendous dedication, flexibility, patience, persistence, and endurance really made our last year the success that it was,” he said. “Thank you for your cooperation and encouragement as we worked together to do right by our boys and to keep our great school community as safe as possible.”
But the focus, Berkley said, must remain on Brunswick’s future.
“We’ve long strived to be the very best independent day school in the country for boys: Now, let’s take an aspirational step further — setting ourselves to strive to be very best school, bar-none.
“Let us strive to be a school that always seeks to achieve a thoughtful and strategic balance of traditional values and innovative thinking; a school of excellence in every quarter; a school that embraces change when it is prudent; a school of welcome and respect for all; a school that never ceases to encourage the most healthy, purposeful, and enduring development of the character, mind, and body of each and every Brunswick boy.”
Head of School Thomas W. Philip asked the audience of Brunswick parents and faculty not to dwell on the effects of COVID-19, but instead to consider how crises such at the pandemic are inevitably jarring to society and can serve as a catalyst for shifts in other areas not directly related to the event itself.
Philip called this process the progression of the three “C’s” — crisis, challenge, and change.
“Facing a crisis with success is a challenge that some people and institutions meet and others miss,” he observed. “And the disruption caused by the crisis tends to cause changes that would have been unlikely (or at least delayed to a greater degree) without it.
Citing the Great Pandemic of 1918, Philip explained how Americans were committed to their upward trajectory and did what they could and needed to do to persevere — forging ahead with their lives and amazingly pulling together to focus on their newfound place of power on the world stage.
“Almost heroically, despite the ravages of that pandemic, there was a shared feeling of pride in what had been achieved and great hope and expectation for what the future might bring,” Philip said.
“It seems to me an almost unassailable truth that shared inspiration and action in the face of crisis and challenge is a powerful and often repeated force. Our current crisis is no exception, and the Brunswick community’s embrace of that spirit of togetherness has resulted in still greater strength and success for our school.”
As examples, Philip highlighted the foundation for creation of the Brunswick Health and Wellness Initiative; ongoing and broad-based efforts to increase diversity from racial, cultural, and socioeconomic standpoints; and the school’s institutional commitment to the local community.
But no matter how much change there might be in our world of increasing uncertainty, Philip said, Brunswick will remain committed to the building of character and to the school’s founding words of Courage, Honor, and Truth.
“These words and the values they represent are what defines Brunswick and what serves as the glue to keep us together as a community.
“They ensure that whatever danger, trouble, or difficulty they encounter, our boys will always be prepared — no matter what, where, or when — to stand their ground, to think things through, and to lead thoughtfully and responsibly.”
In conclusion, Philip encouraged all to look toward a brighter future — and to do so together, just as the Brunswick community did during the darkest days of the pandemic.
“As we begin this, our 120th year, let us do so with resolve, care, love, and great hope. And let us, together, dedicate ourselves to making our school ever stronger as we work to ensure the very best for all our boys in the years and decades ahead.”