Headmaster's Thoughts: February 2021

I believe that these next 12 months will be a good year at York Prep! The first shot of the vaccine has been given to the medical crews, first responders, over 65s, those with certain medical conditions….and (drum roll, please) virtually all of our teachers. Our students will, therefore, be in a safer school. We hope all eligible parents and grandparents have also secured a vaccine dose.

This will be a good year because, having gone through the year of the plague, we will ask our parents to not only ask their children what grades they achieved but, more importantly, what acts of kindness did they do today? Did they befriend a shy child? Did they guide a confused student to the right place? Did they ask a new student to join their group for lunch? Did they direct an upset student to the Wellness office? Did they praise a fellow student? What did they do today that they are proud of? Character will always trump algebra, and, while we are happy when our children achieve academically, we are really proud when they are kind.

This will be a good year because the teachers will run similar fun courses as those they offered online last June. After a year of in-school and streaming education, the students (and you parents because we love having parents join) can learn from a variety of fun courses. Last year, those included Jewish cooking with Mr. Schwartz and Yoga with Ms. Hutchinson, among many others.  As parents, you will again understand why our students love their teachers. We will once more run review courses in math and English during August, to increase the confidence of our students before the first day of school. This will be a good year because there will be no charge for any of these online courses.

This will be a good year because our application pool is substantially up. Our word of mouth reputation is stellar; we are attracting outstanding candidates.

This will be a good year because it is not last year. Because businesses will come back, because we will be able to travel, go to the theater, and go to restaurants. Finally, we will be able to go out! And we will not have to worry about the older members of our family since they will have been vaccinated.

This will be a good year because we have all learned not to take things for granted and to cherish the moments when kindness is shown in dark times. When strangers showed concern for us and vice versa, and our doctors treated us in spite of this infectious disease.

This will be a good year because we have optimism about the future. And optimism itself is a quality that we must never let go of. Learning the lessons from the past year, we will make this a much better year.

Winston Churchill famously said, in October 1941, when Britain just started to win battles and before Pearl Harbor: “This is not even the beginning of the end, but perhaps the end of the beginning.” Were he with us now, and saw the situation, I believe he would say; “This IS the beginning of the end.” The vaccines, created by brilliant scientists, have, in a shorter time than anyone thought possible, brought us hope for this year. All of us know friends and family we have lost. We mourn them. In their memory, it falls on us to be kind and empathetic, to be diligent as teachers and students, and for families to hug each other as they come to the end of the war.

I believe we will have a good year ahead at York Prep!
Ronald P. Stewart
York Prep