That being said, the book speaks about individual character but in advance of the holiday season, I want to talk about corporate character which I will define as the character of a group of people or an institution. Stay with me, as I realize the day before break is not an ideal time to get too deep into a subject. However, I do want to reflect a little on the eulogy and resume virtues of North Cross.
Frequently, I mention résume virtues in my remarks about North Cross, either written or spoken. College admissions, our number of AP Scholars, test scores, and honor roll status are frequent markers which we use to establish the quality of a North Cross education. I continue to believe that these are the basics we must use to establish our bona fides for prospective parents. But, the reality is that the greatest benefit of a North Cross education lies in the eulogy virtues we teach. Following are a few examples, but it may be productive for you to think a little about your child’s experience at North Cross and come up with your own list of those which you have seen being imparted upon your child while they have been here.
As I sit in my office writing this article, I am being serenaded by two students, one playing our new baby grand piano and the other, the violin. The piece is Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and they are just having fun playing it. They are not playing it for a grade, or a competition, rather they are playing it because they have a passion for music and they enjoy playing together.
Turns out that these two musicians have plans to play their music in several retirement homes over the Christmas holiday and in that way, provide a service to others. Or, it could be our students volunteering to help tutor kids as part of the Community Youth Program at St. John’s. Or, students waking up early on Thanksgiving morning to help out with the Drumstick Dash. We want our kids to recognize the needs of others.
We could re-state the school’s mission statement as “Trying to make smart be cool.” Too often the prevailing value in schools is to not display your intellect because smart is not cool. At North Cross, we value the intellect. I strongly urge Lower School parents to come visit our senior speeches (also known as their DeHart Projects) to see how all of our students display their command of their senior topic. These kids display their intellect for all to see and the variety of topics is endless, from therapy animals to the cultural effects of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, to the role that Chinese nationalism has played in the renewal of interest in traditional Chinese music, to Nelson Mandela, and on, and on. At North Cross, smart kids are cool and cool kids are smart.
Love of Self and Others
Our students love themselves. Not in the self-absorbed teenaged way that is too often shown in mass media, but in a truly productive way. To love yourself is to recognize that you have been given a set of gifts that have value and that by loving yourself, you can maximize these gifts for the benefit of others.
And, we love others. Watch the honest, deep love exhibited after a hard-fought athletic contest. Listen to our coaches as they preach the value of supporting teammates and how they model care for each other. Watch our four-year-olds as they each express their love for their senior buddy. And watch our Fat Pencil speeches to see how we love our school and our classmates.
I can go on, but as I said earlier, discuss this at the dinner table and see what else you can come up with. My point is that the value of North Cross is probably not found in the reasons you brought your child here. Rather, the value lies in the eulogy virtues your child learns by spending their school life in such a rich and vibrant learning community.
As we head into our winter holiday, I hope you will feel a sense of gratitude for all that comes from being at North Cross. We are indeed fortunate that so many have done so much for us.