- Letters from the Head of School
“Were you concerned about anything before the first day of school?” The question posed by Monsignor Mullelly, our school chaplain, during his Mass of the Holy Spirit homily, hung in the air for a few moments before the first brave boy raised his hand.
With the encouraging tone of the engaging teacher he is, Fr. Tom called on the boy, “Yes young man. What were you concerned about?”
“I was concerned about what I didn’t know. I was nervous about the unknown of starting a new year”, the student so vulnerably shared.
Another hand shot up. “I was afraid that I would not make any friends”, another young man courageously shared.
Truth. Aren’t we all afraid of the unknown in some way, shape or form? Aren’t we all concerned at times about not belonging, or not having a friend, or being alone? In this moment, Fr. Tom reminded us that as we begin this journey of a new year, we must seek strength in the light and warmth of the Holy Spirit, a steadfast source of love and peace in our lives. The Holy Spirit lives in each and every one of us, and lives and breathes at Princeton Academy each and every day.
As I listened to these boys so bravely share their concerns, I could not help but recall just days before when I witnessed a group of veteran Middle School young men get up from their lunch table to sit with a group of new students when they noticed that they were initially sitting by themselves. This is the spirit of who we are at our best.
Just when it started to feel like the engaging homily had moved on, another courageous hand was raised with purpose. Fr. Tom stopped what he was doing, acknowledged the boy and said, “Yes young man? You look like you have something important to say.”.
The Lower School boy stood up from his seat in front of an audience of over 220 people and proclaimed, “well, last year before I came to Princeton Academy I was sad because I did not want to leave my old school. I cried. But now, I get sad to think that someday I am going to have to graduate and leave Princeton Academy, and I don’t want that.” Respectful silence and understanding befell all who were present. My heart was full. That right there, my friends, is what it’s all about.
Good news: You never actually leave Princeton Academy - it is always with you. As children of the Sacred Heart, our young men uniquely carry the spirit of our mission with them into secondary school and life beyond. It is a part of their identity. The Nest is forever home and Princeton Academy lives in the hearts of our students forever, right alongside The Holy Spirit.
Never was this made more true to me than this week during our annual Mockbrook Academy Day. On this day, our Grade 8 students sharply dress in their graduation attire (blazer, khakis and Princeton Academy tie) and practice the skill of interviewing for their upcoming secondary school admission interviews. Humbly, no other school prepares its students for this process as thoughtfully, intentionally and holistically as Princeton Academy.
I had the good fortune of interviewing several members of the Class of 2023 and each Gentleman Scholar was absolutely unique, amazing and inspiring in his own way. While each one of our conversations took its own unique path, I did ask them all these two questions: “How has your time at Princeton Academy contributed to the person you are? How has your PASH experience formed you as a young man?”
The Holy Spirit revealed itself in the replies of our young men:
“The Sacred Heart Goals & Criteria have formed my character and served as guideposts for how I live my life, inside and outside of school.”
“I have learned how to be the best person I can be for myself and for others.”
“I want to make our world a better place.”
“I have developed a social awareness which impels me to action, and I am committed to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.”
“The powerful sense of community of Princeton Academy has made me who I am.”
“I feel blessed to be in a place where I feel known, where people are friendly and where everyone knows each other by name.”
“Princeton Academy has taught me how to be a gentleman.”
“Princeton Academy is my family, and I am grateful.”
And so, as our eighth graders reflect on their journey at Princeton Academy before preparing to soar from The Nest, they remind us that in their formation as creative, compassionate and courageous men of good character forever lives the influence of their Princeton Academy foundation.
So to my Lower School friend who so bravely taught us what the Holy Spirit is all about, do not be concerned - you will never have to leave Princeton Academy, because Princeton Academy will never leave you.