It was a joyful kickoff to the school year here at BUA. We started the day all together, some 250 students and faculty strong, in the gym. I passed the microphone around to students so that they could share something they are looking forward to. The recurring theme: being together in person with one another and their teachers. The day bore that out, with lots of smiles (mostly behind masks) in the hallways, classrooms, outside eating lunch, and on the fields. It feels very good to be back.

Partway through the day, a new 9th-grade student approached me to tell me that she had found some money on the floor and wasn’t sure what to do about it. I thanked her and assured her that she had done exactly the right thing. We put out an announcement and the money has been reunited with its owner. About thirty minutes later, a returning 10th grader found me in the hallway and — somewhat mysteriously — asked where he could find a broom. He had noticed that somebody had dropped food on the gym floor earlier in the day. He and I found a few students nearby, and together we made quick work of it.

It’s true that we expect this type of behavior; we take great pride in being a kind and caring community filled with students and adults who look out for one another. That approach is, unfortunately, increasingly countercultural. But even while keeping our expectations high, it is important that we share and celebrate those small, generous moments. Those stories clarify our expectations and inspire others to act accordingly. 

I offer a hearty thank you to those two students and to all our students who took a moment to do the right thing, even when nobody was watching. They are not just building community; they are building character, which Plutarch insightfully described as “habit long continued.” And that is what we care most about.

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