The following was delivered to the Middle and Upper School student body on Monday, October 29, 2018.
A few weeks ago, I spoke to the Middle School students about Matthew Shepard on the anniversary of his death. For those of you who don’t know, Matthew was a college student at the University of Wyoming when he was killed in a hate crime for being gay. Shepard’s death became a rallying cry for the LGBT community and eventually inspired the federal anti-hate crime law that bears his name. On Friday, Matthew’s ashes were interred at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC among notable Americans such as Woodrow Wilson, Helen Keller, and George Dewey. Dennis Shepard said on Friday “Matt was blind…He did not see skin color. He did not see religion. He did not see sexual orientation. All he saw was a chance to have another friend.” And in his remarks on Friday, Rev. Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Church concluded by saying “gently rest in this place, you are safe now. And Matt – welcome home.”
While we have come a long way since Matthew’s death in 1998, the events of this past week, including the shooting this weekend at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 people dead and many others injured, show that we are still fighting a war against hate in this country.
The faculty and I take our roles of educating you all seriously. We know it is our job to teach you how to be writers, mathematicians, scientists, and readers. However, it also part of our job to teach you to be emphatic young people who will show kindness and respect to all you encounter on in life’s journey. This is why we have our Core Values. This is why we ask you to only use kindness toward each other at all times, because we know how we treat each other is the most important thing. Today, I ask that you go out of your way to do one kind thing for a classmate, a teacher, or a coach. As Aesop said “no act of kindness, however small, is wasted.” Do it for Matthew. Do it for the victims in Pittsburgh and for all of those who have suffered from hate, intolerance, and discrimination. I believe we can make the world a better place one kind act at a time. It can start today, and it can starts with you.