By Taylor Stockdale
The school year that we completed in June was like no other in Webb’s long history. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and following intense and careful preparations, we safely and successfully returned our students to their homes and their families on March 12th. After taking a brief break from our scheduled classes to allow Dr. Theresa Smith and our faculty to “fine-tune” Webb’s virtual learning programs, classes and community programming resumed online.
First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude to our students and families for their patience, willingness, and courage in embracing these momentous changes. Equally, I want to express my thanks and admiration for each member of Webb’s dedicated faculty and staff who responded so selflessly to support our students and their families. In the face of this difficult crisis, our community has acted in unison with our mission: thinking boldly, mindfully, and creatively, acting with honor and moral courage, leading with distinction, and serving with a generous spirit.
While the past year will be defined in many ways by COVID-19 and Webb’s response to it, that is not the full story of the 2019-2020 year. It was a year that saw so many student and faculty successes and we must not let those be lost. Webb students put in hours of hard work in the classrooms and labs, on the stage, track, cross-country trails, and athletic fields, and in the pool that created wonderful lifetime memories for them and for all of us. The beginning of the year Class Retreats, Convocation, WSC and VWS opening ceremonies, Chapel Services, Honor Committee and Honor Cabinet and so much more kept Webb’s traditions vibrant and healthy. Importantly, they connected our current students to those who came before them and those who will follow them. COVID-19 may have dominated the news during the second half of the school year, but it did not define the school year.
I firmly believe that the challenges we faced during the year and that we face today are making Webb even stronger and more relevant as we approach Webb’s second century. All that Webb and the Alf Museum have accomplished and will accomplish in the years ahead is in partnership with our students, families, faculty, staff, and alumni. In the year ahead, we will do all that we can to ensure a safe and vibrant learning experience while seeking new ways to deliver Webb’s superb education. Together, we will explore and develop ways to delve deeply into issues of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness and by our actions, fulfill our goals of understanding and modeling anti-racist thought and behavior. And we will continue to build a strong financial foundation for Webb today and for Webb’s second century.
I referred earlier to Webb’s mission, and how it supports and guides us today as we face challenges that our founder, Thompson Webb, could never have imagined. That mission is now etched in stone on the walkway through the newly created Centennial Plaza in front of Hooper Community Center and the renovated entrance to lower campus. It is my hope that you will be inspired by these words, as I am, and that they will remain timeless for all who love Webb.
As we approach Webb’s Centennial in 2022, I thank you for all that you do to make Webb so special and invite your partnership and support in the year ahead.