Thursday, August 21, 2014

"We May Never Pass This Way Again"

 I  am Richard Rankin, Anderson Davis Warlick Head of School--and those of you who are new may not know it--but I am a Gaston Day School graduate, Class of 1975. Recently I have been thinking a lot about the 1970s when I attended school. The other day my family and I were driving back from my nephew's wedding in Birmingham, and I heard Seals and Croft's "We May Never Pass This Way Again," and it sent me flying back in time. For those of you who don't know "We May Never Pass This Way Again--which is practically everyone at convocation--it is a song about how fast time passes and how important it is to live life fully and with courage.

 Other aspects of the 1970s also fascinate me again. I bought a really wide, polyester, vintage necktie off Ebay about a month ago. My wife Sarah Park thinks it is extremely unattractive. But I think it looks cool. Be on the look out and see if you spot me wearing my 1970s tie at school one day. They say fashion runs in cycles. As far as I am concerned, 1970s ties are back--the wider, the more geometric, the shinier the polyester, the better!

Finally--and this is really is sad but true--one of my Gaston Day classmates and teammates died recently. He was far too young, and his life was always hard and troubled. I am choosing to remember how kind he was and what a wonderful jump shot he had. I hope my friend rests in peace.

Part of the wonder of being an educator is that we get to participate in the lives of you students. We get to watch you grow up and become beautiful young adults. Get to see you hit or miss the winning shot or goal. Get to hear you read the Gold Key essay. Get to see you be kind to a Lower Schooler. At times, I find myself wishing to tell you just how precious and wonderful your high school years are. How amazing it is to be young and have the whole world unfolding around you! But you can't understand that, and it is not fair to expect you to. You are too caught up in it all and lack the perspective of age to appreciate just how magical high school is. When you are as old as I am, you too will know how fleeting life is. At one level, we really do never pass this way again.

At another level, we really never leave this place. Or, maybe more accurately, Gaston Day never leaves us. I am living proof. Deep inside me is that eighteen-year old listening to Seals and Croft, wearing wide ugly ties, and passing the ball down into the low post so Knowles can lay it in. The same is true for you. These lessons, these experiences, these friendships, these teachers, these coaches, this school--all of them will endure in you character and become permanent and indelible. It really is irresistible!

Who knows? Maybe in thirty-five or forty years, you will be reminiscing about your years at Gaston Day back in the 2010s. You will be wondering to yourself, "Should I wear a bow tie again? Man, those things rocked back in the day!" Our hope and prayer is--on the other end of the long arc of your lives--you will be older and grayer, but still safe and healthy. Further, we hope and pray that you will remember Gaston Day School as a place where you came into your own, had happy times, and became better people. Just like I do.

It is the start of a new school year. Students, here is what your teachers and coaches desire from you: work hard, learn much, have fun, and stay safe. All we really want is for you to succeed, and that includes learning from your mistakes.

Enjoy this moment in time, Gaston Day School. We are all in it together in ways that are mysterious and enduring. Let's have a great school year.