From the Desk of Jay Rainey – December 13, 2019

Earlier this week, it was my privilege to dine with a group of our junior kindergarten students in the Beasley lunchroom, a fine local eatery, and the conversation turned to favorite animals, as it does. “Lion!” offered one of my tablemates. “Cheetah!” said another. “Cheetah!” said the person who had just declared “Lion!” The young man to my right was plaintive. “I can’t say my favorite animal right now because my leg hurts.” Falling back on my English teacher training, I identified this statement as a non sequitur, the lifeblood of discourse with the kindergarten set. But maybe it wasn’t a non sequitur after all.

The 13th-century Muslim mystic philosopher Rumi challenges the readers of his poem “A Community of the Spirit” with this question: “Why do you stay in prison / when the door is so wide open?”

As I reflect on the week we are concluding, I am reminded of the many privileges that were mine in addition to my engaging lunch in Beasley. It was my privilege to observe eighth-grade science students working in teams to construct molecules in their very own Minecraft world. It was my privilege to attend a Lower School assembly that included a delightful edition of “Beasley Broadcast,” showcasing our fourth-grade students’ capacity for creativity, leadership and joy simultaneously. It was Ruth’s and my privilege to host several members of the faculty and staff at a social gathering at the campus residence after school on Tuesday as an expression of thanks for their good work at MICDS. It was my privilege to have a conversation with some of our senior students who are awaiting early decisions from colleges, and to remind them of how proud I am of them — and how proud they should be of themselves — notwithstanding those outcomes. It was my privilege to attend Winter Term planning meetings with several teachers, staff and students as we look ahead with excitement to the inauguration of that program next year. It was my privilege to hear our strings musicians perform on Wednesday evening and our band musicians on Thursday evening, all of whom manifested energy, dedication and joy as they gathered and played. And it was my privilege today to visit our seventh-grade science students, to attend our Middle School meeting in Eliot Chapel, and even to witness the goofiness of this afternoon’s Sophomore Shoot-Out in the McDonnell Gym as we conclude this penultimate week of school in 2019. (The sophomores emerged victorious over the faculty.)

Of course, this week entailed its challenges as well. I am confident that your week did, too. Every week does. But why stay in the prison of our challenges when the door to our happiness is so wide open? It is up to each of us to walk through it.

I am pleased to report that, approximately 45 seconds after the moment whose recollection begins this letter, my junior kindergarten dining partner was able to persevere through his leg pain sufficiently to proclaim his own favorite animal, which was, amazingly, also “Cheetah!” Which reminds me: Why is it a bad idea to play poker in the grasslands of Africa? Too many cheetahs!🙄

Always reason, always compassion, always courage. Happy weekend to you and your loved ones.

Jay Rainey
Head of School