The night prior to the first day of school Pacifica holds a Dedication Service to welcome students, parents, staff and to dedicate the year to God. Here is the Head of School Address by Jim Knight.
Dedication Service—Head of School Address—August 18, 2020
March 13, 2020. The last day of school. Two weeks at home turns into four weeks, then six weeks, and now several months. Quarantine. Stay at home orders. Canceled graduations. Canceled seasons. Canceled classes. Canceled vacations. Empty streets. Closed beaches. Vacant freeways. Masks. Social distancing. Business closures. Reopenings. More closures. Loss of jobs. Loss of life. Spikes and surges. Controversy. Uncertainty. Life as we know it is upside down.
May 25, 2020. George Floyd’s murder. Death. Shock. Pain. Sadness. Anger. Rage. Bitterness. Despair. Anxiety. Sadness. Loss. Civil unrest. Protests. Riots. Racism. A national conversation. History. Social media. Awareness. Action. Long-term action. A chance. A chance to grow. More pain. Wounds. Hope.
August 19, 2020. Tomorrow, we start a new school year. It won’t be the typical start with a pancake breakfast, crowded hallways, clanky lockers, face-to-face conversations, freshly painted classrooms, after-school rehearsals, coaches’ whistles, carpools, bus rides, Bagel Nosh and more. Postponed: The all-school retreat. Fall sports competitions. Theater productions.
Tomorrow, you will not come to school. You will log in.
These are difficult times, and during them, we can’t put our heads in the sand. We need to look up and look out, facing reality head-on.
At Pacifica, we value truth. We want to tell the truth in love. When we tell the truth, light breaks forth and illuminates. Things aren’t hidden. Life is exposed. When things are known, when life is out in the open, healing can begin. A celebration can begin. Truth can be painful and ugly. It is hard to look at. We typically run from the truth. It hurts. Much of the time, life remains hidden. We fear exposure and talk using nice words. We don’t speak the truth. When the truth is hidden, things fester and grow. We suffer more when we hide.
I can’t believe I am giving this address. This address is filled with obstacles, melancholy remarks, and painful reminders. However, it is right and good to tell the truth. It is appropriate to look at hard things. We could just gloss over what is happening and share platitudes and ease into the conversation. As much as I want to do that, it doesn’t seem right.
We are in the middle of a pandemic. A once-in-a-lifetime event that has things upside down.
We are fighting for justice and civil rights for all Americans. A moment connected to many moments in our history. A moment that we cannot miss. A moment we must seize.
2020 is a turning point. A watershed moment in history. Life will never be the same.
Students, staff, and parents, we are truly living in a special moment, and we have a chance, if we are courageous, to shape and define the future. Students, your generation, this generation, will never be forgotten. What you have done and will do here will be etched in history and remembered through the ages.
We begin this year with the truth that things are hard. We acknowledge it. We accept it! We own it! We don’t deny it. We bring these hard things to light.
In the midst of hardship, we need help. Care. Concern. Empathy. Understanding. Connection. Latitude. Perspective. Love. Grace. Support. Unity. Prayer.
We don’t need to talk about the “importance of grit” and “perseverance” as great soft skills that will grow us. We are living “grit.” We are living “perseverance.” Life is seasoning us.
The author of Ecclesiastes tells us:
There is a time to weep and a time to laugh.
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to search and a time to give up
A time to keep and a time to throw away
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
Students, parents, and staff—wisdom is knowing the right time to do the right thing.
The time is right for tenderness. Kindness. A listening ear. A loving comment.
Parents, faculty, and staff, our students need us more than ever. In the midst of our current reality, our kids need comfort. Comfort in the midst of hardship. Challenge is surrounding them. They will step up. They will rise to the occasion. They are talented and have been uniquely gifted by God for this moment. Our gift to them at this moment is comfort. Presence. Kindness. Understanding. Prayer.
Parents and staff, our call is to bear their burden. Our call is to bear with one another, to love one another, to unify together as we support and care for our kids.
Jesus shares this example with us:
A man was walking down the road to Jericho.
He was beaten, stripped, and robbed, lying half-dead.
A priest came. He passed by and crossed to the other side of the road and moved on.
A Levite passed by the beaten and the bleeding man crossed the road and moved on.
Then, a Samaritan came to the man and saw him and took pity on him.
He bandaged his wound, putting on oil and wine to help him heal.
Then, he put him on his own donkey, brought him to the inn, and took care of him.
The next day, he took out two Denarii and gave them to the innkeeper.
“Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense.”
Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.”
Students, your challenge is to carry each other’s burdens, to lift each other up, to go the extra mile with each other. To use words to encourage, to build, to bring goodness and joy into each other’s lives.
We will have crowded hallways again.
We will have long bus rides to school retreats with mud pits and milkshakes waiting for us.
We will dance and sing on stage.
We will hit three-point shots, read poetry together, laugh and cry together.
We will do life together in person.
There is hope. Out of hardship and suffering come light, beauty, and joy. For now, we walk together through this valley knowing that we will be on the mountain again. We will see far and wide. We will rise.
Tonight, we dedicate this year and each of you to God, asking for His kindness, His guidance, His Love. We don’t do it alone. We do it together. We rely on God’s love, which inspires us and gives us life.
Tomorrow, together, we begin a unique journey. The journey of a lifetime.
You have my prayers and my love. I am excited and am with you. May God bless you and keep you. May He shine His face upon you and give you peace this year.