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Taking Care – September 11th, 2017

Taylor Stockdale
Dear faculty and staff,
 
I wanted to write you and reflect a bit on this important day, and also share some thoughts on the times in which we live.  As I looked out to the flag pole this morning and saw the flag at half-staff, I was reminded of that unforgettable morning 16 years ago.  I know we can all relate and that we have our own vivid memories of how we managed and coped with the surreal and horrific events that were taking place in New York, Washington, and in the skies over Pennsylvania. 
 
As I reflect on September 11th, I'm also drawn to today's world and all that our students and we are experiencing.  I’m sure I won’t confuse anyone when I say these are “trying times.”  Whether I’m referring to the devastation suffered by the people of Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, or the aftermath of Irma, or the unease and anxiety over the international chaos and heightened state of affairs related to North Korea, or the uncharted and volatile political environment in Washington and beyond, when I say “trying times” all heads seem to nod.
 
I don’t want to talk politics right now. But I do want to talk about our students and their families and how we might help them. Of course, as a school community, we are in the business of education. It’s our job, and here at Webb we’re at it 24/7. I know that all over campus, in small groups and large ones, the problems and issues of our day are being talked about. I know it is happening casually and formally inside the classroom and out. I want to thank you for it and ask you to keep it up.
 
Speaking personally, I remember being in boarding school when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan (I’m dating myself a bit, but that was in 1979.)  I remember being terrified, as all students were pre-registered for a potential draft during that spring.  But I also remember keeping up a pretty hard shell, and not showing my anxiety.  Of course, after the fact, as alumni, we all talked about how we were feeling the same level of anxiety and yet never wanted to open up about it.  Not to put too fine of a point on this, but the reality is teenagers are good at covering things up when they feel a high degree of nervous energy.  The more we can engage as adults, the healthier we will be.  This is when “community” counts most. 
 
Our community and its daily structure, its regularity, can be comforting and supportive as well. The way our days move from shared meals, to shared mid-morning meetings and chapel, team sports, afternoon activities, dorm activities, and on and on…supports and nurtures our students and works to temper the stress of our modern world. I don’t believe it should block it out or that any of us should pretend that these issues aren’t real. Indeed, they are. But I do think that if we look to our mission and our community of teachers, staff and students that work to live it every day—there’s not another place I’d rather be right now, or another vocation in which I’d rather be engaged. 
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