Where the Past and Future Meet

By Tom Wilschutz, Head of School
I’ve managed to live my adult life in various educational institutions, so I really have no comparative basis for the claim I’m about to offer, but nothing seems to rush by as quickly as an academic year. (This would not be quite so disheartening were it not also true that I, too, seem to be aging at approximately the same rate as the school days tick by.) One day it’s August and plans are being formulated for the opening of school and in the next moment, it’s Open House and then Thanksgiving and then the holiday break and then spring break, and in a heartbeat we’re planning the senior dinner, graduation, and final faculty meetings…and whoosh, another year has gone by.

Spring seems to always find me reflecting on this phenomenon — perhaps because we locate in close proximity to each other an intersection where the past and the future meet. The past revisits us in big and small ways during Solebury’s annual Reunion Weekend, which took place just last month. Solebury alums from across the decades returned to renew old friendships, share their stories, and stoke their memories of a time and place that, for many, is now quite long ago. Every year I look forward to my annual chat with 1941 alum (that’s 78 years ago!) Tom Cooper, who regales me with stories of a Solebury School in a very different age, but clearly a school with the same essential DNA as the school I lead in 2019.

In virtually the same moment as we reminisce with our past, we enter a relatively intense time with our future — our seniors. In the last few weeks, there have been a slew of dangling participles that were tended to: final decisions on colleges; efforts to help with scholarships and financial aid packages; AP exams; senior projects. This year, Rebecca and I had a sharper lens into the various matters that drain the oxygen from the waning days of the year: senior Sofia Iriarte, from Barcelona, has been a homestay with us for her senior year. In the blink of an eye, we are parenting again, helping to select courses, advising on test prep, transporting her to college visits, reminding her that the senior year did not actually end in March, and as I write this blog, I’m also adjusting my calendar so we can take her next week to her new student orientation program at Marist College, her first choice.

And of course, with the advantage of experience and hindsight, as we’ve watched our seniors wind their way toward graduation, a cocktail of emotions have swirled about. Happiness for their achievement; wonder at what the future holds for the 62 lives we’re about to untether from the rock that is Solebury; relief that we are handing them off  — by and large whole and healthy and educated and ready; and of course, a tinge of sadness. Sadness because we will miss them. They arrived, young, kids for the most part; they leave on the edge of adulthood. We have watched them grow; helped them grow — nurtured and nudged, prodded and pulled, encouraged and praised. Mostly, our role is now over.

So, spring at a school is an interesting time. Memories and dreams mingling together, competing for attention as we embrace our history, all the while pondering the future of those about to embark on a new journey that will take them away from us.

Because of Sofia, we have developed close ties with so many of her senior friends that have shared our home for dinners, for overnights, for trips to local restaurants. It is truly an amazing class that has provided the kind of leadership that elevates a good year into a great year. As they prepare for their final two Solebury moments — tonight’s senior dinner and Saturday’s graduation — I am proud of them, happy for them, sad at the thought of their departure, and I wonder in 78 years, what reminisces will the next Tom Cooper share with the then Head of Solebury about their experiences in 2019?

My warmest wishes to the Class of 2019. Relish the end. Enjoy tonight. Bask in the pride and love that will envelop you tomorrow. Come back to visit as alums.

P.S. Sofia, clean your room.