(This week’s letter is adapted from my remarks to all students in celebration of our Turkey Train food drive on Thursday, November 19.)
Late November is a season of gratitude. Every year at this time, as the autumn leaves fall around us, and as the days grow shorter leading into the winter holiday season, we reflect on the many blessings in our lives, and we give thanks for them. Even though this particular year has been very different than what we would have imagined at our all-school Thanksgiving assembly last year, we can still find many things for which to be grateful and many ways to show our gratitude.
I am grateful that our community cares for each other and for so many people beyond MICDS whom we don’t even know. One of the most visible ways that we demonstrate this compassion for others is our annual Turkey Train food drive. I so wish that we could all be together today in the MAC, having passed hundreds of frozen turkeys across our beautiful campus and having collected thousands of pounds of food to accompany those turkeys to the Foodbank.
Do you know what’s amazing, though? Even though we couldn’t celebrate our Turkey Train tradition in person, we still donated 4,860 pounds of turkey, 3,382 pounds of non-perishable food items, and $5,664.85 in monetary gifts. What a difference you all have made in the lives of so many of your fellow St. Louisans this November!
Our spirit of giving at MICDS transcends the Thanksgiving season and extends throughout the year. You may recall that many MICDS families made masks for people who needed them in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak. Our science department donated unused personal protective equipment to local hospitals that were in short supply. Students have also raised money this year for charitable causes, volunteered their time to support community service projects, and created their own nonprofit organizations to assist people in need.
As much as we have worked to help others, we must not forget that others have also worked to help us. Let us take time in this season of gratitude, therefore, to give thanks for the miraculous technologies that allow us to gather and to learn no matter where we are during a global pandemic. Let us give thanks for our amazing teachers who learned how to use these same technologies, in some cases almost overnight, and who figured out how to keep teaching up to our very high MICDS standards in this radically new learning environment.
Let us give thanks to our coaches, who kept working through the restrictions and limitations of our fall sports season, inspiring and motivating their athletes even when it looked like we might not have a season at all. Let us also give thanks to our MICDS support staff who have filled in when needed to make sure that students are taken care of when teachers cannot be present, who have ensured that our campus stays extra clean and safe for everyone here, and who have kept us fed with healthy lunchtime meals since the start of the school year.
Let us give thanks for our parents, who support learning at MICDS every day and who make all kinds of sacrifices for our community. And let us give thanks for each other. I receive so many Ram Shout Outs every time I send out one of my MICDS Community Polls, and I have to say, it’s pretty great to read all of the ways that you are thankful not only for your teachers but for each other. From loaning a pencil to helping carry supplies and instruments for an overburdened friend to offering an ear to listen and a shoulder to lean on, it’s clear that MICDS Rams are here for each other every single day. All of these people and resources are tremendous gifts in our lives that we should pause to acknowledge and be thankful for.
There is a French proverb that I will share with you today in our spirit of Thanksgiving: “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” A man named Jean Massieu said these words long ago. Well, he actually said them in French! (“La reconnaissance est la memoire du coeur.”) He was a great teacher just like our great teachers at MICDS, and his words are still teaching us today. “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”
What I would ask of you in this season of gratitude, perhaps when you are tempted to be sad because your Thanksgiving holiday is not what you had hoped it would be—not as festive or as full as it might have been in a normal year—what I would ask is that you think about all of the many blessings in your life. Look in your heart. You will find your gratitude there, and I promise you will be happier when you do.
Always reason, always compassion, always courage. I wish you a very happy and safe Thanksgiving with your loved ones. We will look forward to seeing you back at MICDS after the break.
Head of School
This week’s addition to the “Refrains for Rams” playlist: Harvest Moon by Neil Young. Though we are now seven weeks past the actual harvest moon of 2020, Thanksgiving is our American (and Mr. Young’s Canadian) harvest holiday, so I will put this one on the playlist while there’s still time. “Just like children sleepin’ / We could dream this night away / But there’s a full moon risin’ / Let’s go dancin’ in the light.” (Apple Music / Spotify)