When the Breck community gathers for a speaker or performer it will invariably offer a standing ovation as the individual steps on stage. The tradition is well established, but for newcomers it can be a bit disorienting. My first experience with this Breck tradition took me aback as I wondered why the nearly 1300 individuals gathered would offer such gratitude before the event when the person had yet to earn the acknowledgement. Experience had taught me that a standing ovation is earned and should therefore be limited to the most outstanding of performances. Like most things, at Breck, we do things a bit differently; and that difference is rooted in the mutual care and respect we have for one another, a lesson I first learned seven years ago and echoes still whenever we come together as a community.
This greeting, I have learned, is rooted in a genuine respect and admiration for all. It is found in the daily, lived experience and will be found in the halls of Breck, the weekly community engagement partnerships in our community, in the celebrations of the successes of our community members and in the values we share. All are welcome and each individual valued. We aspire to be – and to create – the best version of ourselves. To that end, we are always learning and we learn from each other and it is this shared journey that compels the applause.
The approaching MLK Day events will find our community blessed by speakers and performers who will be welcomed with a standing ovation. Our guests will share their wisdom, experiences, and insights. And, we will honor their words as a community by earnestly taking steps towards becoming better versions of ourselves, both individually and collectively. We will reflect on what is shared, engage in substantive conversation, and honor each other’s humanity. This is the work we strive for everyday and these events infuse our collective work with energy.
I’ve been fortunate to be the recipient of the standing ovation when I was the faculty speaker for the Upper School. I can still feel that moment of applause. It’s at once humbling and empowering. I feel it each time we stand in anticipation of what will be shared by the next speaker. And, I can’t wait to feel it next week.
A schedule to next week's Upper School Symposium is posted here.