It is a Purnell tradition that each year we have a special theme. As a community, we consider the theme and its meaning in different ways and how we can turn it into action. Throughout the year, our seniors will make speeches guided by our theme. They will share their own interpretations and experiences.
When Lytt and Sis Gould founded Purnell, they articulated three Founding Guidelines:
Truthfulness in All Relations
Consideration of Others
Use of Common Sense
For this school year, I have chosen to emphasize Consideration for Others. Our theme, simply put, is kindness. Our goal as a community is to use kindness to inspire and celebrate positive action and to build a more welcoming and empathic community.
Please don't assume the theme of kindness of too simple. Let's consider the power a kind word, gesture, or action. Kindness can help change the world.
As a society, we too often fail to recognize that kindness is actually a great show of strength. Too often, we are led to believe that strength is best demonstrated by exerting dominance or superiority over others, while kindness is portrayed as the opposite - a sign of weakness. It is not.
People confuse kindness with being nice. But they are very different. You can be nice and be passive. But kindness requires action.
Consider the difference between "nice" and "kind." It's a subtle, though important, difference. Being nice means well, but it's not enough. Nice is polite, but it stays out of situations. Being nice doesn't add to problems, but Kindness rolls up its sleeves and tries to solve them. Kindness is honest, speaks up, and rises to the occasion.
Kindness is something you do. If we were to sum it up, we'd say this: Nice is passive, but Kindness is active.
Think of Kindness as a special form of personal attention.
When you apply the Full Value principle of "Be Here," be present, you are really listening, truly paying attention not only to yourself - which is important - but to the feelings of others around you.
That is the moment when you can act. You can hear your friend, consider her feelings, and do something, say something comforting. Something assuring, something that says, "I'm giving you my attention, and I want to know that I want to help."
What you can do is show you care. We can do this in small ways: inviting a new Purnell girl to join your conversation, offering assistance to a fellow student, providing positive words when a girl feels discouraged. This is also fundamental to our Guideline of Consideration of Others. It's time we actively return to those values.
At Purnell and in the world around us, we are all better when we act with kindness. When we do, we all have the power to make a difference. A real difference.
One of the Founders of Purnell, Mrs. Gould, had a favorite quote originally by the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu who said:
"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love."
At the base of our flagpole, Mrs. Gould installed a plaque that reads, "Kindness in giving creates love." I give my thanks to Mrs. Martin for pointing this out to me. Next time you walk across the quad, please take a look!
For each of us this year, let us show consideration and kindness toward others. We should all model and demonstrate the kindness we want to see. I promise you, kindness is contagious!
Each of us should also be kind to ourselves. You will discover that being kind to yourself, with rest, good nutrition, and quiet moments, will replenish your energy and motivate you to be kind and considerate of others. You will feel better and stronger for it!
Maya Angelou said:
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Let us together set an example for others of what a community of kindness and active, personal attention can look like. Let's make kindness our way of being every day. We will make Purnell a stronger and closer community, and we can make the world a better place.
Anne M. Glass, Ed.M.
Head of School