It began with a Chapel talk.
When incoming Student Council President Estela Franca ’19 met with her peers to discuss their goals for the 2018-19 school year, the one word that came to mind was “joy.” “We wanted to incorporate happiness with school spirit and pride of being at St. Paul’s in general,” explained Franca. "It fits perfectly. We realized that all of the things we were aiming for fell under the same umbrella, and joy encompassed everything we wanted to achieve.”
Before the students scattered for the summer, Franca and her fellow Sixth Form officers Elena Guild, Aaron Magloire, and David Roselle rallied the School community during Chapel to be the architects of the environment in which they live and learn. “We study together, practice together; we laugh together, cry together, and eat meals together,” shared Magloire in June. “In this togetherness, we've got a real opportunity to build strong, long-lasting community, and in that community, a culture of genuinely joyous people.”
A faculty and staff book group had just finished reading The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, ruminations on the topic by the Dalai Lama and the Most Reverend Desmond Tutu, and recommended it to the Vice Rector for Faculty the Reverend Michael Spencer as the summer read for the teaching staff. “It was a moment of serendipity," remarked Spencer. At that point, “the selection of the theme by the students and our selection for the faculty were not connected at all.”
From there, Franca’s call for “joy” took on a new dimension. The Student Council encouraged students to pick up the text, and the Staff Engagement Committee did likewise with School employees. “We thought that it would be a great way to begin incorporating our theme for next year into our community,” explains Franca. “We also think that having students read the book would get everyone on the same page.”
This step towards further introspection underscores what Franca and her fellow Student Council officers already know to be true about life at St. Paul’s – the School is a dynamic community composed of life-long learners.
“We have actors who single-handedly memorized over 1,000 lines for this year’s production of Hamlet. We have engineers working to prevent viral infection. We have rowers capable of pulling D1-level 2Ks on ergs (don’t worry if you didn't understand that sentence). We have had Olympians, members of national sports teams, and politicians educated at St. Paul’s School,” says Franca. “Best of all we were all a part of it,” she adds. “We have the potential to work as a cohesive unit to make this school the very best it can be. We are very excited about what this next year holds in store for us, and you should be, too. There’s one thing we're going for, joy. Let’s do it.”