Reach. Rise. Grow. These are the three phases of the Transform Campaign to build our new Community and Innovation Center with our first-ever Dining Hall and a new Experiential School for the youngest in our community... and much more.
If you missed the Luminaria Ceremony at 2018 Shorecrest Relay For Life and the gathering of students and friends on Haskell Field as the Pentatonix version of Hallelujah was softly playing over the PA system, you missed one of the most spiritual moments many of us have ever witnessed at a school event.
A hallmark of strong leadership is when the initiatives and successes of an organization (or school) continue after the leader moves on. While the personal strengths of an individual teacher, coach, or administrator may have a life-changing impact on students, programs, and the school, the great school continues to deliver great experiences even after those rock stars retire or move on. The same goes for our superstar students.
Service and Learning are important practices. When combined into a Service Learning program there is the potential for our students and other community members to view citizenship through a lens not often learned in schools. We realize that we are doing much more than acts of charity. We learn that we are engaged in solving problems and challenges that touch our lives and the lives of all who share the community in which we live. Service Learning has the potential to take a single act and turn it into a habit of mind that results in a full-blown movement.
March for Our Lives on Saturday, March 24, was hopefully the beginning of increased youth involvement in citizenship. I was pleased to join the Shorecrest students who attended the event in Tampa. The chant led by marchers, “Tell me what democracy looks like,” followed by the response, “This is what democracy looks like,” was a great start. Regardless of where one stands on the gun law debate that the March for Our Lives participants have brought forward, it is great to see our nation’s teens organizing behind a cause that matters to them.
I hope all members of the community enjoy a change of pace as we break for the coming week. Many members of our community will remain focused on their jobs, and that certainly includes our maintenance team at Shorecrest. When the students and teachers return on Monday after break, the following campus changes will be in place or underway...
This coming week Shorecrest Upper School students will spread out across St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay, Florida, other states, and other nations to engage in a week-long service learning experience. Shorecrest is one of few schools in the country that takes four consecutive days for all of our Upper School teachers and students to engage in depth with service and service learning activities. We are particularly proud that our Service Week program was originated by students 8 years ago.
Now is the time. After many months, our plans to add the missing pieces and complete the Shorecrest campus are available to all members of the community. The Board, the Transform Leadership Committee, and staff members have worked in a silent phase to raise significant capital, garnering the Board’s support to break ground in May. Now is the time for the full community to join in the transformation of our campus and the development of new programs that will support our efforts in being one of the premier schools in Florida. We have heard some wonderful ideas during the planning and silent phases of the campaign, but none rings more true than the words Cory Gaffney, Class of ‘95, parent, and Board member shared a few months ago: “Shorecrest cannot do this project, but the Shorecrest Community can.”
What kind of community and culture do you imagine for your children and your family?
Shorecrest has a culture that is guided by our college preparatory mission, our vision that focuses on developing inclusive, innovative, and transformational education experiences and our five Core Values: Responsibility, Respect, Integrity, Knowledge, and Compassion. Our culture encourages high levels of involvement and participation in all aspects of school life.
Recently, while in a discussion about how African Americans are portrayed in US history, one of our students commented that during the Third Grade Class Play, African-Americans were recognized for their efforts to oppose slavery but not for their contributions to providing freedom and liberty. Those of us who watched the production this year enjoyed the show. The students loved performing and the audience enjoyed the music and historical tidbits. Yet, when put under the lens of equity and racial justice, the production clearly leaves out the contributions of African Americans and other ethnic groups who make up the fabric of our American society.
Yesterday's devastating attack on a Florida high school strikes fear into the hearts of families everywhere. It is particularly jarring to those of us who spend so much of our lives at schools and feel safe and at home there. While I cannot, in good conscience, promise that violence will never happen at our school, the systems we have in place strive for maximum safety and security without making the school feel like a prison in lockdown.
Jennifer Garner has made the phrase, “What’s in your wallet?” one of the most memorable expressions for an ad since “Can you hear me now?” While the advertising world has found memorable questions and witty characters like the Geico Gecko to remind us to buy a certain product, people concerned with human motivation have found that affirmations can set the tone for achievement.
The silver lining around much of the sadness experienced by the Shorecrest community in recent months has been the extraordinary levels of compassion, support, and generosity that students, teachers, alumni, and families have demonstrated. Denny Stypinski said that he thinks if he told Kristin Leary and the Shorecrest Cares group that he needed a car, they would want to know what make and model he wanted. He and many others are overwhelmed by the support the community offers in a time of need.
How can you have more than one priority? The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word priority as “something that is very important and must be dealt with before other things.” The word “priority” took on a plural attribute in the 20th century. We got so busy trying to do two things at once and juggling three, four, or five balls at a time or spinning 5, 6, or 7 plates at once, we changed the meaning of the word and concept of a priority. We now have priorities.
2017 ended with the tragic plane crash in Costa Rica that took the lives of Shorecrest family members, Mitch, Leslie, Hannah, and Ari Weiss. The memorial ceremonies, funerals, symbols of support like moments of silence and arm bands will be some of the ways we move through the grieving process for the loss of a family of very special individuals.