To thrive for 100 years a school must stand for something important and indissoluble. Its mission and values must remain relevant and inexhaustible. And finally its stewards, over the ebb and flow of decades of challenge and difficulty, trend and fad, must act with unceasing commitment to its purpose. Above all else, from our founding, Webb’s stewards have devoted themselves to nurturing and inspiring young people to know right from wrong, to live and lead lives of honor and moral courage. This is our living legacy and the strong foundation on which we look ahead to the next century.
It is with great excitement that I write to you as we begin to prepare for the opening celebration of The Centennial Years at Webb. Next October we will gather together on campus, across the country and around the world to begin the festivities honoring our extraordinary schools and museum, while planning for the next 100 years and beyond.
As you know, the story of Webb’s first century began in 1922 when Thompson and Vivian Webb founded The Webb Schools on an abandoned school campus in the foothills of Claremont, California. Over these last 100 years, we’ve seen the timeless values first embedded in the Webb School of California tested and reaffirmed, the establishment of the world class Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, and the founding and flourishing of a singular and extraordinary Vivian Webb School in 1981. Always more than the sum of its parts, The Webb Schools is an educational powerhouse like no other.
It’s my great pleasure to welcome you to Webb’s 97th school year. As we immerse ourselves in campus life and begin the first full week of classes, I wanted to share some exciting news from our summer here on campus—and tell you a little bit about the year ahead.
At Webb, since graduation last June, the campus has been buzzing with activity. Our Junior Scholars Summer Program for rising 7th, 8th and 9th graders, a boarding program with four separate tracks over two sessions (paleontology, science and engineering, digital arts and leadership), was once again fully enrolled with over 160 students from across the country and around the world. A number of capital projects were also completed in dormitories, classrooms and faculty residences. And work began on the complete re-imagining and renewal of the Hooper Community Center and Centennial Plaza. Our new Hooper Center will include large and small gathering spaces with new technology, a community café, a student services center and more. This major construction project will be completed next summer and officially opened at The Centennial Years Kick-Off Celebration on October 2, 2020. I know it’s more than a year away, but please save the date!
Like many of you, I have to admit, I have scandal fatigue. The daily headlines continue to shock and disturb, and recently hit very close to home. The college admissions debacle that rocked the world of higher education last month, also shook the world of secondary prep schools. Several editions ago, in the WEBB magazine, I referenced the selective college admission process in America as a game of sorts. Not a fun game or in any way positive, but rather as an insidious game of rankings, superficial bolstering, all with high-minded applicants hanging in the balance. Many people responded to me that they agreed: there must be a better way.
As we begin to plan our final push toward The Centennial in 2022, I’ve become increasingly intrigued by the idea of permanence, particularly organizational permanence. What makes some institutions stand the test of time and others simply vanish?