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Welcome from Head of School Peter Fayroian
2018 Founder's Day

Whether this is your first or 45th Founder’s Day service (yes, today’s speaker has attended at least that many), welcome!

Annually, our community gathers on a day near the fifth of February, the birthday of our school’s founder – but why, precisely?

From our founding through the mid-1890s, we celebrated Mr. Moody’s mother’s birthday, she being so generous as to share her birthday with her son. Moody was a fine one for finding excuses to celebrate with his students; after all, Mountain Day was his idea. And though his younger son Paul once described him as “the humblest man I ever knew,” his love of a good party prompted him to continue the schoolwide tradition of observing February fifth after his mother died in 1896; sometimes even calling off classes, as he did in 1897 when he announced that some English friends had given money for the construction of this very chapel as a 60th birthday present. Surely no one here would argue against spending Founder’s Day like that! I hereby cancel classes for the rest of the day! (Oh, that's right: it’s Wednesday and classes are already over. I'm sorry.)

In February of 1900, all of that changed. Moody had died the preceding December, and six weeks later, no one at the schools felt much like celebrating. The day became a moment to memorialize him to whom we owe our existence as an educational institution. Well over a century has passed since then, and while the original impetus remains in place, Founder’s Day has not become some static year-to-year litany. We’ve had distinguished guests like Sister Helen Prejean and John Updike who spoke not a word about Moody. We’ve combined the solemn service with the hilarity of winter carnival. We’ve invited favorite daughters and sons, like today’s speaker, to share their wisdom. But running through the years, perhaps there’s some deeper reason why we gather each year at this time.

Consider then, the happy coincidence of Mr. Moody’s birth coming so close to mid-winter’s day. Pagans called it Imbolc; we call it Groundhog Day – the day when good Yankee farmers checked their wood sheds and hoped to find half their winter fuel supply remaining. Coming midway between winter solstice and vernal equinox, and about midway between Convocation and Commencement. It’s a good day to take stock of things, to make sure we still have half of our firewood, for us to come together as a community and remember why we are here, and to thank our founder and all of those along the way who brought us here, today.

Much is behind us, much is still before us. Welcome, indeed!

Photo by Glenn Minshall

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