From the Headmaster

The Urgency of Now...

Alfred F. Dugan III


Our world demands that we focus on building boys into good men, and our boys deserve this care. The current context in which we live illuminates this imperative; 20 years ago, our founders felt the same need with similar urgency. Today, our clarion call is loud and clear. We must focus our efforts on raising joyful and healthy boys so that they will become creative, compassionate and courageous men of character.

What… How… Why… 

What do we do? At Princeton Academy, we develop creative, compassionate and courageous young men to be leaders of a just society. I am aware that I state our mission often. It is because I believe wholeheartedly in our purpose and I do not think it can be said enough. I mean it. Quite simply, this is what we do. In uncertain times, the clarity of our mission, our purpose, provides a ballast for us as educators and as parents, which in turn benefits our boys. No matter what external forces are influencing our world, we seek to fulfill our timely mission.

How do we do it? We achieve our mission by educating to the Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria and Princeton Academy’s Learning Principles for Boys. As a Sacred Heart, K-8, independent school for boys, our identity is uniquely clear. We have an acute focus on our sphere of influence, our young men, and we can specialize all that we do on bringing out the best in boys. As a K-8 school, we have a special opportunity to contribute to a young man’s development in these essentially formative, early foundational years. Upon this foundation, a man’s life is built. The gift of the Goals and Criteria helps to forge this foundation and then becomes the moral compass by which he can navigate the world. What does it look like? See our Prayer Buddies in action. In a recent interview on NPR, Michael Thompson, author of Raising Cain - Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, emphasized that a key to developing empathy in boys is to create a relational environment where they have an opportunity to care about and for one another. In the case of Prayer Buddies, the younger boy is the beneficiary of love and care from an older role model. The older boy has the opportunity to compassionately care for his younger buddy while recognizing that he is being looked up to in a most meaningful way. Real empathy is formed by caring about the “other”, which will translate in a healthy way later in life. Creating win-win scenarios like these that exercise the Goals and Criteria and our Learning Principles for Boys is one example of how we do what we do at Princeton Academy.

Why? Our world is in desperate need of our mission now more than ever...and so are our boys. As a boys school of the Sacred Heart, we have a very special opportunity to shift the narrative and shine a light on the goodness that lives within our boys. The heart is the symbol at the core of our being and with love, we seek to nurture the interior selves of boys in our setting. 

Our eighth-grade students are the ultimate representation of our mission and the what / how / why we do what we do. At the conclusion of yesterday’s Admission Information Session student panel, I asked our eighth graders how they would make our world a better place because of their Princeton Academy experience. One young man said that his teachers have helped him develop an understanding that we are all different and that he will seek to include all perspectives in his leadership journey. Another young man said that he discovered a love of science and, in particular, would like to help others in our world by providing them with more affordable health amenities, specifically as it relates to those who are visually impaired. Finally, one young man shared that he has developed a passion and interest for history and that he will channel that understanding of our past to prevent future human conflict and injustice, seeking to bring peace to our world. 

We are not just raising boys - we are raising men. By cherishing the joy of a boy’s present moment and investing wholeheartedly in the construction of his life’s foundation, we will fulfill our mission and succeed in building good men, enlightened men who are children of the Sacred Heart, who care, share and lead. By bringing out the best in boys, we are, in turn, ensuring that they are their best for others. At Princeton Academy, this is central to our definition of what it means to be a man today.

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