From the Head of School

Hope

  • Letters from the Head of School
Alfred F Dugan III

“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” 

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Dear Princeton Academy Community,

Let us pray for all those who lost their lives in the mass shooting that occurred in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at a Tops Friendly Markets store in the Kingsley neighborhood on the eastern side of the city: Roberta A. Drury (32), Margus D. Morrison (52), Andre Mackneil (53), Aaron Salter (55), Geraldine Talley (62), Celestine Chaney (65), Heyward Patterson (67), Katherine Massey (72), Pearl Young (77), and Ruth Whitfield (86). We pray for their loved ones and for all who are affected by this tragedy. We also pray for the victims of all hate crimes that have occurred in our nation over the past several days.

Of the ten people who were killed and three people who were injured, 11 of the victims were Black. The shooter, an 18-year-old White male, live-streamed the attack. This mass murder was a premeditated, racially motivated, white supremacist hate crime that has resulted in an act of terrorism. 

Once again, our students are expected to go about their lives following an act of extreme violence that has undeniably affected so many of our young men, leaving them with profound wonderings, fear and a range of emotions. These violent actions cannot be normalized. For many of us, it is hard these days to find and hold onto Hope. Sometimes it feels like the very symbol of Hope is under attack... I know. 

In the wake of this devastation, I write to you, our Princeton Academy Family, to give you Hope. We know that as a school of the Sacred Heart our mission is to reveal the love of God in our world. I want to share with you the Hope that I see each and every day…The Hope that I know… The Hope that I believe in. I see this Hope in our children, in our students. In particular, the Hope that I see lies in the Princeton Academy Class of 2022, who stand on the precipice of their graduation, ready to serve as creative, compassionate and courageous leaders of a just society. The Princeton Academy Class of 2022 are representatives of all Princeton Academy generations, past and present. My Hope lives in them.

You see, after being present in our nation’s capital with our eighth graders earlier this week, I cannot help but be filled with profound Hope. We began our journey at 6:00 a.m. on Monday morning by taking a moment to acknowledge and honor the lives lost in Buffalo. This solemn moment set the tone for our journey amidst the backdrop of the themes that guide us in our eighth-grade year at PASH: Leadership, Legacy and Identity. 

Yes, heading to Washington D.C. for the first time in three years for our annual trip brought the prospect of joy, fun, fellowship and adventure. We have worked hard through COVID to make moments like these happen. It felt great to be back with our boys in this way, spending time together and making memories that will last a lifetime. 

At the same time, the PASH Class of 2022 knew that they were on a mission. Amplifying the significance of our journey was the context in which we are living in real-time. Amidst the social landscape of our nation and the world right now, we knew that our journey to D.C. would be surrounded by social unrest, polarization and protest. That said, our young men were searching for the promise of democracy and the history that has formed us. As James Baldwin once said, “The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.” The Class of 2022 discovered this for themselves, leveraging their experience as lifelong learners and leaders who learn from the past and will think critically and compassionately about the decisions that they make in the future. This gives me great Hope.

The Class of 2022 is one of substance and purpose. This is the group of young men who founded the JEDI Warriors program, committed to advancing the imperatives of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, rooted in our mission and inspired by Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria. Their sincerity and their ability to appreciate, respect and absorb the meaning of all that is around them is a source of Hope for us all. 

I gain Hope when I observe our young men at Arlington Cemetery honor and respect the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I gain Hope when students tell me that they wish they had two more hours to spend in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, seeking to make sense of our present by learning from our past. I gain Hope when I walk with a group of young men who genuinely want to reflect at The White House, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and WWII Memorial. I gain Hope when our students know from memory Dr. King’s quote, “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” They are the stone of Hope I hold onto.

I also gain Hope when I witness the Class of 2022 engage in high-level, respectful and enlightened civil discourse with United States Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman from our 12th congressional district of New Jersey. Our young men care about others. They listen with intentionality. They care about our communities, our nation and our world. They have purpose and they genuinely want to contribute to the greater good. They are our Hope, and all who were present for this conversation were inspired by them. 

Make no doubt about it, I also see plain, radiant Hope in their smiles, their laughter and their joy. They are our children, after all.

While my heart is heavy, I am also buoyed by the promise of Princeton Academy’s Class of 2022 - our “stone of Hope.” I am grateful for these Gentlemen and I know in my heart that they are ready to fulfill their mission beyond 1128 Great Road. 

With love and prayers,

Rik

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