VVS is a Melting Pot for True CommunitySeptember 28, 2017
Paul Amadio ~ Head of School
Since I was 8 years old, I spent the majority of my fall and winter Sunday afternoons watching professional football on television. Every week was spent with family and friends rooting for your favorite team. In my case, my favorite team was and remains the New England Patriots. If you follow football then you know I have been pretty lucky watching them win 5 Super Bowls in the past fourteen years. I also remember the days when I watched them win one or two games a year. Those are the days I cherish. Why? Because my father was next to me for everyone of those Sunday afternoons. He somehow thought that the referees, players and coaches could hear him when he yelled into the television: “That is a horrible call.” “Why would they pass the ball?,” he would shout. I still laugh out loud thinking about him, and of course today my wife and kids observe me acting the same way. I am all in when I watch football. Football has always been about family, cookouts, and healthy competition.
There is a connection between my football story and the way I am feeling today about VVS and the world around us. This past weekend most National Football League (NFL) players came out in solidarity to protest President Trump’s remarks made at a rally in Alabama, and through his Twitter accounts that NFL owners should, “fire players who knelt during the playing of the national anthem.” He feels it is disrespectful to the country and the flag.
I am not using this time to write you a political statement. I love our country and flag, and am proud that our Constitution’s First Amendment protects our freedom of speech. This past Sunday, the NFL exercised their rights. As each game started and the national anthem was played, many players linked arms on the sidelines, others stood on the sidelines with their hands on their hearts, while some kneeled. I am no expert on these matters, but I don’t believe those players, coaches, and owners were disrespecting our country or the flag. They were voicing their opinion that we all have a responsibility to work together to make a better country – less divisive, less racially charged.
Their unity reminded me of VVS. I have deep respect for the office of the President, but my hope for President Trump and others is that they spend every working moment thinking about what we need to do to solve the world wide problems and challenges we currently face. I recommend leaders focus on peaceful solutions to old problems, and providing safety and relief to Puerto Rico and the millions without power and homes after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Let’s let the football players voice their peaceful opinions.
I started thinking about VVS and what we represent as a model for the world around us. One recommendation I would make is that the President spend one hour on this campus and see first hand what is possible in today’s world. VVS got it right. I have immense respect and appreciation for our parents, staff, and students, for how they live and learn from one another, and for how they represent themselves as good citizens of the world around them. I have been in schools for thirty years now and I have traveled the country and the world, and as anyone who will listen to me knows, I believe VVS is essential to the future world. This small community is a living reminder of Margaret Mead’s quote (which hangs in a frame outside my office door – left by the founders of VVS): “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”
At VVS, there is a variety of perspectives and opinions offered daily. Discussions occur in every dorm, classroom, during work jobs, athletics and riding, or at Community Meeting. The reality is that each voice has a perspective that others appreciate, even when there is disagreement. VVS is a melting pot of what true community is and can be. In this environment there is a diversity of people, backgrounds, viewpoints and relationships that we are fortunate to experience. The fact it includes students from eighteen countries and the U.S., was and remains, part of the very essence of this school.
This community is a reflection of the world today: We bring people from all over the world to live together, to share similarities, accept differences, and appreciate the fact that we solve problems in the classroom to prevent battles on the battlefield. Last week, while walking through the downtown area of Boulder with a little time before our alumni event, I came across this quote from Leonardo Da Vinci. It redirected my feelings of woe towards a reawakening that this school creates the change agents for a better tomorrow. It also made me grateful for all of you who allow us the privilege of educating your children. So, until we meet again face to face, I leave you with the eloquence of Da Vinci and prayers for a peaceful tomorrow. “I love those who smile in trouble, gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.”