Reflections: "I Didn't Know You Could Act!" from Rusty MacMullan, Interim Head of School
“I Didn’t Know You Could Act!”
Nothing gives me greater pleasure than watching young people find out something about themselves through the work they do in and out of the classroom. Seeing a once shy youngster step on to the stage to belt out a song or come off the bench to score her first goal of the season accentuates the joy of participation and the sense of belonging that we foster at BFS.
All of our students are required to execute projects in woodshop and art, to be part of a play, to sing, to play instruments in performances or to make presentations in class. Our school is structured around including kids; we don’t look for reasons to exclude. Requiring participation means that we as a faculty deal with the highly motivated to the less so. Part of our challenge in including all is to find the spark in each and nurture its growth in a safe place.
We are in the business of helping young people figure out who they are through a rich and sometimes intense program during the school day that contains many academic subjects, arts, service, and sports. In part, requiring these courses means that we delay children’s choices so that their options are always open to them as they grow from Lower Schoolers to young men and women.
That in a small school we need “all hands on-deck” means that everyone shares in the success of the group. In today’s popular culture, working on behalf of something larger than one’s self is often given mere lip service. But there is sacrifice involved when a young person is responsible (and accountable) within the framework of a team, the cast of a play, in the chorus, and in relationships.
Full participation means a lot to us at Buckingham Friends School. Young people forge respect and friendship with each other and with the faculty through commonly held experiences. They have an enhanced sense of working for something grand and more eloquent than self-interest. They learn that others depend on them to do their jobs, and, ultimately, they are given experiences that may awaken in them a passion, a grace that was hitherto unacknowledged. Confidence born of these multiple requirements and fully participatory experiences means they take on the next stage of their lives after BFS in the spirit of the invocation over our front door, “Let Your Life Speak.”
Finally, as we walk to the Buckingham Meetinghouse, the fragrance of wood and the felt history of Quakers and school children since 1794 signify yet another community participation in our common spiritual life. Quaker principles and philosophy provide a simple, yet powerful language to speak about the courage of our relationships, our learning, and our growing in our BFS family.
Russell J. MacMullan, Jr
Interim Head of School