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We made it.

It almost seems surreal to say that. Summer snuck up on us in a way, with the spring-like rainy weather hiding the fact that vacation time was just around the corner. Now I sit in a quiet building with no students, surrounded by the calm sounds of the sporadic conversations and rustling bags of those tying up the loose ends of a long year.

I know we will need some time to process everything that occurred this year, and I also know it will take a while to see what effects may linger on from how different things were here. We often aren’t fully aware of how things have affected us or our communities until we have the perspective that only the passing of time can provide. The past year certainly will have impacted each of us differently. Some in our community lost loved ones to COVID-19 or had to live with a higher level of concern than most. Others didn’t but were still asked to make sacrifices in the abstract, called to change their lives to protect the health of others.

There is ample evidence around us of the impact of COVID-19: the loss of human life; the loss of memories and moments we had long looked forward to; the anger and resentment of many at the demands made on us for the sake of mitigation.

But for all the angst and fear, division and rancor that roiled around us, I am most proud this year of the unity that our SJA family maintained.

There is no doubt there were disagreements about what should or shouldn’t be done this year. At each step of the way, some thought our policies too restrictive; others reckless. Some thought we should be more aggressive in our decision-making; others, more cautious.

But despite those disagreements, despite the important and complicated debates about what was best for our children and our school, our students and families, almost without exception, were willing to set aside personal feelings and commit to the changes asked of them for the sake of our community.

Part of the power of our faith is that it transcends the immediate. It gives us universal first principles, truths that root us and allow us to venture out into questions, even disagreements, about particulars without losing our way. We can argue about how the tenets of our faith should be lived out in any given situation without having to fear the other, knowing in the end that we are united by something, rather Someone, greater than ourselves, more powerful than any of the questions this world or life could pose.

I am tremendously proud of the success of our school year. I am also tremendously unsurprised. My thirteen years at St. James have shown me that if we remain committed to the mission of our school and the God who lives in its chapel, there is no limit to what He can accomplish through the people here.

When we needed it most, and when it was most difficult to do so, our students, parents, and staff committed to each other and to our mission, to those first principles that unite us all, drawing the eyes of all who saw us above the worldly conflicts of the moment and towards the mystery of the eternal truths that tie us together.

I am so grateful for each of you. Thank you for your commitment to St. James. I hope you and your families enjoy a relaxing and rejuvenating summer, and I look forward to seeing your students again in August!

Your brother in Christ,

Shane