The Exeter Bulletin — Spring 2010

Unifying Principles

April 15, 2010

By Principal Thomas E. Hassan ’56, ’66, ’06 (Hon.); P’11

The feature stories in this edition of The Exeter Bulletin provide a look at some familiar themes in the lives
of Exonians. The adaptation of the Chinese play Thunderstorm was the work of Sarah Ream ’75, chair of the Theater and Dance Department, who then enlisted the talent and energy of students to make her concept come to life on the stage of Fisher Theater. Sarah even teamed up with Li Jing—a teacher at the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China, with which Exeter has an affiliation—to work on the project. The story of this collaboration, both here at the Academy and in China, is told from several perspectives, beginning on page 26.

Relationships and cooperation amongst faculty members and students is also on display in this issue’s main feature, on page 18.The article chronicles a day in the life of Monique Hassel ’10 and Showly Nicholson ’12, and demonstrates how their studies, teachers and friends not only impact their individual lives but also bind these student narratives together. I suspect those same bonds unite Exonians from every era.

There are also the traditions that unite Exonians regardless of age or class year. The words or phrases that would baffle or even startle the uninitiated: “dickey,” “hobo,”“EP” and “stricts,” to name a few. The senior class leaves the Assembly Hall first, boys wear ties to required appointments, and students follow the etiquette of listening and participating around the Harkness tables.

Above all, I believe Exonians are connected by a commitment to non sibi: one that begins on the school’s seal where it testifies to John Phillips’ philosophy that the wisdom gained here should be used for others as well as for oneself. This commitment spans the years. A back copy of the PEAN shows a World War II vintage truck piled high with boys from the Christian Fraternity and bundles of paper, a reminder of a mid-1940s wartime paper drive. The 1963 PEAN—this one has a herringbone tweed cover—reports that the Student Council initiated several programs of “participation and service.” More than 90 boys gave up their Saturday afternoons to welcome students from Roxbury, MA, to campus, while others painted and renovated a room in the Exeter Community Center. The 1960s saw a growth in campus volunteerism culminating in the establishment of the Exeter Social Service Organization (ESSO) in 1967.

Today, that spirit continues as Exonians volunteer in soup kitchens, work with local school children, participate in CROP walks and the Relay for Life, and collect thousands of dollars for Haitian relief efforts (see page 9). Every spring, students and faculty also team up for a special Community Action Day, scheduled for April 21 this year. Exeter teams work with community partners to develop projects that bring students into the New Hampshire woods; onto local beaches; and to farms, homeless shelters, low-income residences, parks and historic homes. While assisting with cleanup efforts or providing other social services, these young Exonians learn about our neighbors and the challenges these individuals and organizations face. This year, mirroring the work of their 1963 predecessors, students will do painting and renovation projects at local churches. Another project, however, involves teaching computer skills to senior citizens and wouldn’t have made the list in the 1960s.

Formal reflection is also a new component to Academy non sibi work. We have asked our community partners to help provide a learning component for our students by giving volunteers an overview of their organization and the services they provide. Upon their return to campus, faculty and students will reflect together on the meaning of their work and its effect. We hope this added awareness will help spur a lifetime commitment to service, and that many students will follow in the footsteps of other Exonians who have
devoted their time and their talents to non sibi endeavors.