Latest Upper School Posts

March 10, 2017

George Washington's Leadership Lessons

 

     “George Washington’s Leadership Lessons” by James C. Rees, former Executive Director of Mount Vernon is the book that I am sharing with all of the classes in their class meetings. Like the author, I believe that people are not born being leaders. Leadership is something that can be nurtured. Leadership is a skill and as such it can be defined and therefore can be cultivated. There is no doubt that George Washington believed this and worked at becoming a better leader throughout his lifetime, worked at improving his character throughout his lifetime.

     To this point in the year we have looked at 9 of the traits that make one a successful leader by looking at what made Washington who he was, how he exhibited the traits of a leader.

     A successful leader …

-Has a clear vision

- Is honest

- Is ambitious

- Is courageous

- Has self-control and discipline

- Is determined

 - Has a strong work ethic

 - Uses good judgment

-  Learns from mistakes

       By looking at Washington the man, we have found him to be not without flaws or failings. We are finding complex layers to his character and seeing so many facets of his life.

      I am coming away with a greater appreciation and admiration of Washington as a leader and a much fuller sense of what it is to be a leader. I hope the students are as well.

» read more
August 30, 2016

Opening Day Speech

 

August 29        Opening-day speech :  Wisdom

Good morning! Good see everyone, good to be seen!  I am excited you are all here. We have had a great summer and the campus was busy with Starz, Broadway Bound and the sports camp and many of you were busy taking BLINC courses.

There are people I want to acknowledge before I do anything else this morning. We have 2 new teachers joining our faculty. I want to introduce our boys’ lacrosse coach, teaching Math and helping in Support Mr. Werner; also joining us from our Evergreen campus now teaching Spanish here in the US full-time Ms. Uribe. Also, in addition to teaching 4 classes, Mrs. Engles is taking on our Director of Alumni duties and will work with the seniors on a number of things this year.

This is also, as you well know, an exciting year as in a month or so we shall be completing Phase 1 of our strategic plan- the athletic  complex that is now undergoing construction on our  campus. This summer some of the faculty and administrators have already started planning the next phase which will happen next fall, 2017, Phase II,   the move of our 7th and 8th grades to the Upper School campus. This is part of the Strategic Plan of the School to get us to one campus, prepared by the Board of Trustees , a process that has taken place over a number of years and included feedback from parents and other groups.

There is one other thing before I go into my speech. I know we now have a number of new drivers –congratulations - but I want you all to be careful driving. We have had  a number of accidents in the past few years-  fortunately no one was  seriously hurt nor killed and  this  is a streak that I want to continue  - so please be careful - certainly don’t use your cell phones when driving  and... » read more

November 23, 2015

David and Goliath

 

Each year I discuss a book with all of our students in their class meetings.  This year the book is "David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the ART of Battling Giants" by Malcolm Gladwell.  The author draws upon the latest research in history and psychology to get us to rethink many of our assumptions.  He is the author of such best sellers as "The Tipping Point” and “Blink.”

In his introduction Gladwell gives us another look at the biblical story of David and Goliath, the story that is the metaphor for the proverbial underdog.  Gladwell gets us to see this ancient story in a totally different light and maybe that it is Goliath that was the true underdog! 

In part one, Gladwell looks at the advantages of disadvantages and the disadvantages of advantages.  We look at the story of the great WWI hero Lawrence of Arabia, the great basketball victory of the 1971 Fordham basketball team over a heavily favored Dr. J. led UMass team as well as some other stories around this theme.

In part two, Gladwell presents the theory of desirable difficulties, where he looks at the lives of extremely successful people who had the learning disability, dyslexia.  We look at David Boies, a famous lawyer and Dr. Emo Fredreich, the pioneer leukemia researcher, Gary Cohn, the head of Goldman Sachs  and Wyatt Walker in his role in the Civil Rights Movement especially in Birmingham.  We also take a look at the Londoners and how the blitz in WWII affected them, the assumptions and the reality.   

In part three, Gladwell shows us the limits of power through the eyes of RosemaryTaylor, a Catholic who lived through the troubles in Belfast in Northern Ireland.  We also look at the story of Andre Trocme, a Huguenot pastor, a pacifist, who preached and practiced resistance during WWII in Vichy, France.... » read more

August 27, 2015

New Student Orientation Speech

 

NEW STUDENT ORIENTATION SPEECH

Subject:  Why Latin is important…

Good afternoon, good to see everyone, good to be seen.  I want to welcome you all here, I am very excited about this year and this class.  I know that starting in a new school can be stressful, rife with anxieties.  We have set up an orientation for you, which should make you more comfortable and help you get to know the physical layout of the school, most of your teachers and some of your classmates before the official first class.  Remember that no question is a stupid question, so ask the student leaders, the teachers, the advisors, the deans of students, Mr. McCormick, or myself. 

Do not let any concern fester, or any questions go unanswered. 

                I want to tell you a story about why Latin is important not only to me, but for you, too.  And why your first day of high school will be much, much better than mine. 

                My high school was all boys, about 100 in a class.  It was a Jesuit high school in Portland, Maine.  The Jesuits are a very learned order of Catholic priests, who devote themselves to education. 

The first day there, I was stepping off of the bus, and I’m sure you can imagine how cute I looked;

Khaki pants, a white shirt, navy blue blazer, the school blazer, and school tie, loaded down with my green book bag filled with all my books.  I could barely walk. 

After first going to homeroom, we all marched in to the gym/cafeteria/auditorium for a... » read more

June 02, 2015

2015 Graduation Speech

 

2015 Graduation Speech

Parents, relatives, faculty, staff, friends, guests and especially the class of 2015.  Good to see everyone, good to be seen.  I am especially honored to speak here today.  This has been an outstanding class.  You have only to look at the hardware to see what they have accomplished this year and in their careers here.  But I especially want to thank this class for how they have conducted themselves this spring and over their four years here.

Seniors, I want you to know that certain parents, teachers and several underclassmen have offered me great sums if I took the time to publicly embarrass you.  I want you all to relax.  Like Caesar’s wife, I am above reproach.  I do, however, today, want to give you your last assignment in three parts and it is to be done over the next four years. 

Part I – Who has a dollar bill?  This is not an attempt by me to try to get paid for speaking.  I need a dollar bill.  Stirling, thank you.  If you have a dollar bill, take it out, turn it over.  On the back, there is some Latin, what does it say?  “Novus Ordo Seclorum”  Anybody?  My Latin scholars?  Where are you?  Bryton?  The “New Order of Classes” – A New Order of Ages.  That’s what it means.  How about this?  “Annuit Coeptis”  Anybody?  “With these beginnings, He has given his nod” What are they talking about?  New Order, These beginnings?  These are lines that come from Rome’s great poet Vergil – from his “Aeneid” in which he is talking about the New Order.  The New Order of peace and prosperity that Augustus, the first emperor is marshalling in after a century of civil war and civil unrest.  Why is it on the dollar bill?  Like Vergil, our founding fathers firmly believed that the government that... » read more

December 01, 2014

Six Questions of Socrates

 

SIX QUESTIONS OF SOCRATES                 

 Each year I discuss a book with all of our students in their class meetings. This year the book is “The Six Questions of Socrates” by Christopher Phillips. The author, a philosopher by training, travels the world meeting with different groups, small in number ( ca. twenty). He begins his discussions by posing a question,  a question the Athenian philosopher asked over two millennia ago.

 The first question: What is virtue? The first group that grapples with this question is gathered literally in the shadow of the Parthenon, only yards away from where Socrates posed this very question. Later we find him asking the same question in front of members of the Navajo nation. We find in the translated words of the Navajo echoes of words of Socrates and ancient and modern Greeks: wholeness, oneness, balance, harmony. In my discussion with the students I talk about excellence and the ancient Greek word arête which is often translated as excellence. I like to think of it as more the pursuit of excellence.

Listening to these discussions give us a framework for thinking about virtue and acting with virtue. If we ask ourselves two questions: Is this making me better, helping me strive for excellence? Is this making those around me better, helping them strive for excellence? These questions are something very tangible we all can put to use in our daily lives.

 The second question: What is moderation? We find the author talking to a group of Muslim women in California, all recent immigrants from various countries. We hear them talking about how Islam is a path between extremes, the middle way. They also talk about modesty and what it means to them. They talk about how extremists have taken over their... » read more

September 11, 2014

Mr. Connolly's School Meeting Address - September 11, 2014

Good morning, good to see everyone, good to be seen. September 8, 1814, excerpt from the then weekly newspaper, the Maryland Gazette reporting on events on the Eastern Shore.

“Last Sunday evening, the crew of the (British) frigate landed in (Worton, Kent County) and burnt Waller’s      house and stockyard after bombing it.  

On Tuesday, they did the same by Richard’s Frisby’s at Fairlee (7 miles south-west) – took four black men but no stock, let the hogs burn in the sty…

The enemy were in Major Bower’s upper cornfield (Kent County) pressing on for (our militia) encampment.  Our men moved back with speed to the field and formed to the rising ground…but just got at their stand when the enemy was upon them. 

They fired – 20 in number only – and dropped seven of the enemy…We had three pieces of artillery on the center and a most animating fire was kept up for about 50 minutes when theenemy sounded a retreat with the bugle, leaving 10 dead and five wounded on the field and one the road toward their ship.”

People on the Eastern Shore, in Annapolis, Washington, Baltimore all were very frightened.  A powerful British force had landed, sailing up the Chesapeake.  A fleet of the greatest navy in the world was sailing by Annapolis and heading to Fort McHenry in Baltimore.  

As I’m sure most of you know, Baltimore will be marking the bicentennial of the defense of Baltimore and the defense of fort McHenry with an all-flags-flying patriotic festival.  There will be tall ships, flyovers by the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and special ceremonies at the fort: a 9/11 ceremony today, Thursday, and one set for the early morning of September 14 – the 200th anniversary of the dawn by whose early light Key glimpsed the flag flying over Fort McHenry after a night of British bombardment.  The battle of Baltimore ended a period of terror inAnnapolis and the surrounding countryside.  ... » read more

August 26, 2014

First Day of School

 

Schoolwide Announcement.: “On Moses’ Fostering of Community.”

Good morning; good to see everybody; good to be seen. For any school to be a good or even great school, it has to be a community.  This is one of the things we are trying to do here; build a community And how do we go about building a community? Well, the first thing is we have to meet, to have some common experience. So we’ll meet here regularly. We’ll celebrate our triumphs, laugh, have some fun, and reflect about what we do, what we need to do, and how we go about it. But what are some of the guidelines for a community? How can you recognize a true community?

Have you ever thought about having a conversation with some great historical figure in the past? If I could go back in time and meet a figure from the past, I would choose to meet Moses. Moses from the Bible, Moses from Exodus, Moses, a prophet honored by three of the world’s great religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. There was a recent special on the History Channel on the Historical Moses.  Moses was given two tasks. The first; leading his people, the Jews, out of slavery. He had to feed his people, he had to avoid Pharaoh’s army, he had to avoid warring tribes or defend his people against warring tribes.  But as difficult as that first task was, his second task was even more difficult: to make his people believe that he was leading out of slavery to make them one again, to make them a people once more.                                                                      ... » read more

April 09, 2014

The Final Four and More

Last night while watching the NCAA Championship game, I was thinking about Connecticut, a smaller team, and a team that had been put on probation. A team whose majority of players had decided to stay at UConn. I was watching and I was thinking about their commitment, and their toughness and their tenacity. And I began to think about the different schools that I have been at.  This is my fifth year here. Then my thought shifted to Ancient Athens and the oath that the young men of Ancient Athens took when they reached the age of 17. I’m sorry, it’s only the young men who took it, no women. 

The Athenian Oath:

We will never bring disgrace on this our City by an act of dishonesty or cowardice.

We will fight for the ideals and Sacred Things of the City both alone and with many.

We will revere and obey the City’s laws, and will do our best to incite a like reverence and respect in those above us who are prone to annul them or set them at naught.

We will strive increasingly to quicken the public’s sense of civic duty.

Thus in all these ways we will transmit this City, not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.

So I think about ICS and where we are and although we are not a perfect school and many things are still in the process, I am very pleased about how far we have come. More than any other school I have ever been at, we do look after one another and we do take care of one another. We are very accepting of others, not just tolerating others. The Ancient Greece virtue of Arete (the pursuit of excellence), I see that all around us. I see it in the artwork in the hallways. I see it with what is going on right now with the musical. I see it in our AP courses and our Senior Thesis. 

...
» read more
February 11, 2014

Address to Students - School Meeting, February 6, 2014

Good morning, good to see everybody, good to be seen. 

Obviously I didn't know Martin Luther King but from all that I read, I'm sure that he would be uncomfortable to have a day named after him. Because he, more than most, knew that the Civil Rights Movement was possible because of thousands of people. And not just people in the 1960's, every decade in American history has had those people who have worked for equal rights. Not just for people of color, but for women as well since our beginning as a nation and even before. 

But I think he would say okay to a day bearing his name as long as people promised to take time to honor all of those who came before and played such a crucial role in this important struggle. When you think of the 1960's, there wasn't just civil rights for people of color, there was also a movement for equal rights for women. When I was your age one of my very best friends in high school, she was a great athlete, but there was not much for her to do post high school. Colleges were just beginning to add women’s sports. And I was thinking of how long of a struggle this has been for women. When yesterday I had the pleasure to sit down with Alex Morris and earlier with Cydni Cole as they signed their national letters of intent to play their respective sports at the next level, Division I. So today I would like to talk about a woman, a most remarkable woman, and read to you her speech that she gave in 1851. 

She was born a slave named Isabella. She was an abolitionist, working to abolish slavery. She received her freedom in New York State, New York State. She was emancipated from slavery in 1827. After being emancipated, she moved to New York City and heard what she believed to be heavenly voices and she took the name Sojourner Truth in 1843, when she quit being a maid servant to become an evangelist, a minister. Isabella was her slave name, it wasn't her name, so she chose her name. ... » read more

More recent posts

August 30, 2016

Opening Day Speech

  August 29        Opening-day speech :  Wisdom Good morning! Good see everyone, good to be seen!  I am excited you are all here. We have had a great summer and the campus was busy with Starz, Broadway Bound and the sports camp and many of you were... » read more
November 23, 2015

David and Goliath

  Each year I discuss a book with all of our students in their class meetings.  This year the book is "David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the ART of Battling Giants" by Malcolm Gladwell.  The author draws upon the latest research in history and psychology to get us to rethink... » read more
August 27, 2015

New Student Orientation Speech

  NEW STUDENT ORIENTATION SPEECH Subject:  Why Latin is important… Good afternoon, good to see everyone, good to be seen.  I want to welcome you all here, I am very excited about this year and this class.  I know that starting in a new school can be stressful, rife with... » read more
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