On Friday, December 2nd, the Head of School Dr. Sheila Culbert held convocation in place of class meetings to address two major topics of conversation at Loomis in the past few weeks. One of these topics was the presidential election- a touchy subject for some- which Dr. Culbert handled gracefully and respectfully. She addressed concerns of international parents about the safety of their children and assured us that Loomis is a community that will continue to foster a safe environment for all. Noting that while we have supporters of both Trump and Clinton at this school, she declared that Loomis Chaffee is not a political school. We never have been, since the days of the founder’s mission, but we rather encourage discussion, debate, and healthy discourse across the political divide.
The other topic of discussion was the renaming of Mason Hall, thanks to StuCo’s hard work introducing the topic as well as other students, such as Pin Kanjanachusak for her article in the Log. In the end, Dr. Culbert and her council, which decided, worked to reach a consensus rather than a divide, concluding that the arguments to change were more compelling than the arguments to remain the same. She strove to make the students realize that while “changing the name does not change history,” it does affect how we see ourselves as a community. While we are well aware that many feel that changing a name changes the tradition and the history of the dorm, the head’s council noted that having a building named after a man who led a massacre isn’t just politically incorrect; it’s crossing boundaries of respect and tolerance.
Dr. Culbert’s wise words were needed after weeks of discourse, oftentimes emotional and hard-fought. Both of these issues, highly debated with fervor among this community, have given this school a healthy dose of reality. Whether a student tries to stay neutral or expresses their beliefs ardently, it’s impossible not to hear about it. In result, it’s important to keep our minds open and listen respectfully to all. As Dr. Culbert reminded us, “We must be active citizens and join the conversation.”