Haverford School Today Winter 2022
Saturday, Nov. 13 was a day that I will never forget. Our first home EA Day in three years. My first EA Day as a Haverford School parent and as Head of School. And the day the sweater, after two long years away, came home.
My EA Day technically began at 1 p.m. the day before, when I traveled to Gulph Mills Golf Course to watch our golfers calmly and confidently grind their way to a 2-stroke win, and it ended at 10 p.m. the next evening, as I left the Class of 1985’s long-delayed 35th Reunion. In between, I attended a terrific alumni event at Appleford, joined families for the HSPA’s Pancake Breakfast, and watched our varsity soccer team coach their kindergarten and first grade brothers at the Fords Future soccer game. And, of course, I cheered with pride on the track as every member of our crosscountry team dug deep within himself to give his all on the course; on the pool deck as our water polo team outworked and outplayed an EA team that had beaten them weeks before; on Memorial Field as our soccer team fought with tenacity and resilience; and on Sabol Field in the driving rain as our football team competed their way to a gritty and courageous victory.
While the day, on the surface, was about competition, to me, it was about engagement, relationships, and community. In my last letter, I wrote about the process of learning the ingredients to Haverford School’s special sauce, of understanding the drivers of our culture. While I still have much listening, observing, and learning to do, I have come to believe that so much of who we are and what we do stems from those three things—engagement, relationships, and community—and that each of them reinforces the other.
At The Haverford School, we do a lot together. We learn together in the classrooms. We play together on the fields. We perform together on the stage. We cheer together in Centennial Hall and in Spencer Stadium. And we do that all with a shared dress code and a shared set of virtues that unite us. Those shared experiences create deep relationships. Those relationships in turn create a sense of community — a sense of belonging and brotherhood — that allows our students to engage more deeply; to step outside of their comfort zones and try new things. That deeper engagement creates new relationships and strengthens existing ones, extending and strengthening our sense of community.
Over the past two years, the pandemic has disrupted this triangle. Our engagement has been limited, and as a result, our relationships and sense of community have atrophied. As a result, our relationships and sense of community have atrophied. In many respects, our focus this fall has been on rebuilding that triangle—reestablishing those shared experiences, rebuilding those relationships, and restoring that sense of community. And in that regard, Nov. 13 was the culmination of that process.
From pre-kindergarteners in the Class of 2035 attending the Pancake Breakfast to members of the Class of 1956 attending their 65th Reunion, thousands from Haverford nation came to campus to support the Fords. They made new relationships and rekindled old ones, and in doing so strengthened our sense of community. That sense of togetherness and belonging was heightened by a week of community engagement on campus leading up to EA Day. Spirit Week brought us together through a variety of activities, including Lower and Middle School door decorating contests, daily Upper School contests between the forms and faculty, and the Pep Rally, during which Upper School musicians performed on stage. And while our teams’ skill, resolve, and coaching certainly contributed to our victory, ultimately, that engagement, those relationships, and our sense of community are what brought the sweater home. The relationships on the soccer and football fields, on the cross-country and golf courses, and in the pool, and the support those athletes received from us in the stands, those are what allowed them to dig deeper, to compete harder, and to believe. And that is why, while the credit lies first and foremost with our athletes and coaches, ultimately, every member of our community—from the four-year-old attending his first EA Day to the 83-year-old attending his 79th, to the faculty, staff, and families who worked tirelessly to help make the day a success—played a role in our victory.
We did it together, and in doing so we deepened our relationships and strengthened our sense of community.
Head of School