The Brunswick community gathered on Thursday, Sept. 15, for its Annual Meeting & Dinner in Burke Field House — the first traditional, opening-of-school meeting of parents and faculty held in person and under one roof since 2019.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees W. Robert Berkley, Jr. ’91 (P ’21, ’23), who delivered his report virtually from Baker Theater one year ago, thanked so many in the Brunswick community for their efforts and goodwill during one of the most challenging periods in the school’s history.
“It is that partnership between parents, teachers, administration, staff — and our boys — that both defines us and makes the Brunswick experience so powerful,” Berkley said.
“Whether in the classroom or on the playing field; in the laboratory or the art room or the theater, the bits and pieces of the Brunswick experience come together to form a unique mosaic that prepares each of our boys for lives that are productive and rewarding, and accretive to society.”
Head of School Thomas W. Philip cited Brunswick’s 120-year history and the school’s unwavering commitment to its boys in the face of great change and mighty challenge throughout those 12 decades — as well as shifting and entangling educational and societal trends in recent years.
Philip also shared his honest fears about the world in which we now find ourselves — and his beliefs that society’s collective center of gravity seems to have shifted and veered outside normal, civilized guardrails.
“I fear that some in American society are either out of the habit or have lost sight of the importance of doing the little things right — such things as working hard to get ahead in life; being respectful of others; being grateful, patient, reliable, and resourceful,” Philip said.
As way of offering potential solutions, Philip made the connection to the early-1980s theory of “Broken Windows,” which states that early and unchecked signs of disorder and misbehavior in an environment encourage further disorder and misbehavior, eventually leading to serious crimes.
And so, as the theory suggests, if society deals with small issues right away, then it will be better prepared and positioned to take on bigger issues as well.
“From a Brunswick perspective, it might mean looking others in the eye when speaking to them, being engaged in class, completing homework as assigned, following the dress code, being a good sport, making sure you’re on time for commitments, being considerate of classmates, or reserving time for exercise each day — each, on its own, a little thing, to be sure,” Philip said.
“But taken together, the practice of healthy habits that make our boys and those around them better for their efforts.”
Philip raised two essential questions as he looked ahead: How can Brunswick best practice what it preaches? And how can Brunswick make sure its own broken windows are consistently attended to — both for the good of its boys and for the good of the community of which they are a part?
Philip announced to the capacity crowd of parents and faculty spanning all school divisions that Brunswick has committed to a plan — aptly named “Ever Stronger, Ever Brunswick” — that will build on its strong foundation as it reaches to new heights, while remaining steadfastly committed to the priorities and focus that have been hallmarks of Brunswick for more than a century.
The forward-looking, five-year, $150 million capital campaign will be anchored by two overarching goals: Continuing to do the little things right — fixing the broken windows of life; and continuing to broaden and strengthen every boy’s opportunity to care, to share, and to be together.
And it will encompass four main areas of focus: Wellness of Body and of Spirit; Faculty Excellence & Support; Student Community & Financial Aid; and Upper School Communal Spaces.
“This four-part plan for an exciting future demands a firm reaffirmation of our commitment to the present,” Philip said. “Brunswick’s mission has remained constant for 120 years: ‘To launch boys and young men from diverse backgrounds and experiences on lifelong journeys marked by excellence in their endeavors, ethics in their actions, and empathy towards others.’
In fulfilling that mission, Philip highlighted core beliefs that define the school’s philosophy.
“We teach our boys how to think; we do not to teach them what to think.”
“We are an unashamedly American school — rooted in a belief that the American story is and always has been a work in progress. We want our boys to share our pride in that story and to seek to make further progress for themselves and others in their lives ahead. We strive for excellence in all that we do: academically, artistically, athletically.”
“We believe that everyone is entitled to respect — that diversity of background, interest, and experience makes us all stronger. Brunswick School is not a school for those of great privilege — it is a school for those of great promise.”
“We believe in the truly American concept of equity of opportunity, but we see that goal as clearly distinct from the similarly sounding but dramatically un-American concept of equity of outcome.”
In conclusion, Philip thanked parents and faculty for their Courage, Honor, and Truth — and harked back to the theory of “Broken Windows.”
“Broken windows are everywhere around us — in every task, every encounter, every conversation, every job, every thought,” he said.
“May our sons appreciate that each is a small opportunity to build greatness.”
To hear remarks by Head of School Thomas W. Philip and Board Chairman W. Robert Berkley, Jr. '91, click on the video links below.