A message of gratitude

Principal Bill Rawson ’71; P’08
January 30, 2023

As we begin the new year, it seems a good moment to reflect on some highlights from our fall term. This year we welcomed the first wave of new Exonians admitted under the school’s need-blind admissions policy announced last November. In all, 341 new students sat in the gymnasium for Opening Assembly, which began with a procession of students bearing the flags of the 37 countries of origin represented among our student body. In my remarks that day, I told students what I tell them every year: You can do the work. You will make lifelong friends. Absolutely, you belong here.

This fall, we also saw the opening of New Hall, which provides a home for 60 girls and five faculty families as well as a new academic space for our Health and Human Development Department. The dorm has brought a new liveliness to its corner of campus, and I am especially appreciative of the flexibility the building gives us to renovate other residence halls, starting with Merrill and Langdell and the construction of a new dining center on the site of Wetherell, which will begin this spring. 

At The Goel Center for Theater and Dance, we saw a stunning fall dance performance, “Moments In Time,” featuring original choreography from our students and faculty, and a thought-provoking interactive theater production of “Everybody” by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Audiences filled the Forrestal-Bowld Music Center for the start of our 2022–23 concert series, including performances by the Concert Choir and Symphony Orchestra and our fall student soloist concert.

We headed to Andover for E/A Weekend, where the predicted rain held off long enough for a trio of decisive wins by our boys soccer, girls volleyball and football teams, valiant efforts by all of our athletes, and an impressive display of Big Red spirit by our students and all Exeter fans, led by our new Pep Band and the irrepressible Red Bandits. Girls volleyball capped off a perfect 14-0 regular season, while boys cross-country captured a third straight Division I title. 

Being able to welcome visitors to our campus in ways we could not do a year ago added excitement to the fall term. We heard words of inspiration from distinguished alumni on the Assembly Hall stage, including Veronica Juarez ’00, Tomi Suchan ’08, Lt. Cmdr. Jean-Paul Christophe ’00 and Dr. Sasha Kramer ’94, winner of this year’s John and Elizabeth Phillips Award, along with other visiting speakers. Over Exeter Leadership Weekend in September, we welcomed trustees, members of the General Alumni Association and alumni and parent volunteers, all of whom relished the chance to meet in person for the first time in three years, including a Friday night dinner with the senior class. We also had a terrific Family Weekend in October, during which families were thrilled to be able to attend classes with their children again.

These are just a few highlights from the fall term. During the Opening Assembly, I proposed starting the academic year in a spirit of deep appreciation and gratitude for the opportunities and privileges we all enjoy as part of the Exeter community. In that same spirit, I want to say how grateful I am for the support of the alumni, parents and other friends of the Academy who help make it all possible. Thank you.  

Editor's note: This column first appeared in the winter 2023 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.