The Lamp

A Holderness School journal committed to critical reflection and fostering conversation around issues connected to independent schools and education in general.

Without Roots, There are No Branches: Understanding Where We Are, from Where We’ve Been

Franz Nicolay, Arts Faculty

We traveled on foot from the verdant valley floor near their growing fields and the water source of the ancients, to the high cliffs at the edge of the mesa offering them protection and sentinel views to the horizon, hundreds of miles away. Everywhere we stepped, the ancients had also traversed, leaving behind artifacts of daily life and culture.

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Promoting Learning in Professional Community: A Reflection on Holderness LEARNS

Nigel Furlonge, Associate Head of School

Whether in plenary sessions, small group meetings, thinking and reflecting individually using journal prompts, or engaging in dinner conversations with our thought partners, I was reminded of how critical it is for adults in any environment to spend time in dialogue about their values, vision, and shared goals outside the business of the technical details of running a school.

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Poetry Super Bowl, DC 2018

Peter Durnan, Academic Dean

With each recitation I heard at the nationals, I was struck by the sense that each student had chosen work that had keen personal importance. Often the experience of hearing a poem recited well feels like being offered a gift. Here, the stakes felt higher: the poem was more valuable than a gift and was offered with a kind of stunning urgency.

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Managing the Tyranny of the Urgent

Phil Peck, Head of School

Education, by its nature, is messy work, but we can always try to keep our workplaces tidy. At Holderness, I see our ability to keep things clean and organized contingent on our ability to think meaningfully and reasonably on what it is we do and what it is we want to do.

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A Different Citizen

Peter Durnan, Academic Dean

In the weeks leading up to Special Programs, my students and I read Claudia Rankine's Citizen, a powerful exploration of prejudice, exclusion, and belonging -- in some ways, a questioning of what it means to possess (or to be denied) the rights and privileges of citizenship. Reading the book together advanced the community of our little class.  We have struggled, persevered, endured, laughed, failed, and grown together, all citizens of the shared space of our classroom. 

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Measuring Success

Bruce Barton, Director of College Counseling

As I listen to offices articulate their review processes, what I am hearing is more measuring and less real reading.  While there can be no doubt that highly competitive colleges need to make sure that a student is rightly aligned (many use the term “mission appropriate”) with the academic demands of their institution, one has to wonder just how much time is being spent on careful reading to find the right match beyond statistical qualification (GPA and test scores).

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Chasing Dragons: Takeaways from the Rocky Mountain Seminar

Peter Durnan, Academic Dean

No one would dispute the merits of travel for high school students.  Visiting other countries develops awareness of culture and language and heightens our ability to empathize with others.  In discussing the experiences of students who immersed themselves in global travel, many of my peers used the term "epiphany" in a manner that struck me as apt and genuine.

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Reflecting on 9/11

John Lin, English Faculty

As I stood near the rear, leaning against a massive column, I could make out some familiar faces, of former students and faculty members from Andover, all of whom had made a longer trip than I.  And it was this multitude of others gathered to grieve, who shamed me to think about my selfishness for me even thinking that I would not be there because it was inconvenient.

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The College of Oz

Bruce Barton, Director of College Counseling

The key to a student's future is the student and not the name of the college they attend.  The critical takeway is that future success is far more tied to one's effort, attidude and accomplisments than it is to the name of the college they graduate from. 

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Why Go To China?

Andrew Sheppe '00, History Faculty

I went to remind myself how few people in the world live according to my idea of normal. For every Holderness teacher, there are about one million people who live in either Beijing or Shanghai. I spend most of the summer sitting at the town beach on Squam Lake watching my kids play. My trip to China reminded me that my reality is unusual. There are more megacities in China (10 million people or more) than there are people on the beach as I write this.

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Skills or Content: My Flawed Dichotomy

Jordan Graham, History Faculty

At a school that has as many extraordinary teachers as Holderness does, I feel like I am likely stating something understood by most of our faculty.  Thus this piece is not meant to convince or reveal some greater truth.  Instead, it is meant to reflect on where I was in this perceived spectrum with skills on one side and content on the other, and where I am now having had the time and space to work through this divide.

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Notes from the Dais: Reflections from a Question Leader at the AP Grading

Peter Durnan, Academic Dean

Training teachers is always tricky work – we are an opinionated, independent, and sometimes recalcitrant bunch, yet here the work was aimed at consensus, at agreeing upon an applicable rubric of nine scoring points.  After a morning of training, we began “live reading,” the work of scoring over half a million student essays.  All of them written by hand.

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Last on the List: Toss Popsicles to the Crowd

Sarah Barton, Director of Senior Thesis

The night before the workshop, I was planning my welcome, and my college-age daughter, aware of the impending heat and my concerns about the day, suggested I "relax and "just toss popsicles to the crowd" (words from a flexible and audience-aware Senior Thesis alum).  Instead, I bullet pointed my opening comments and brought some box fans over to the group work space. 

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Lose Yourself to Find Yourself

Nigel Furlonge, Associate Head of School

Another reason that students find themselves earnestly soul searching during our time together is that they have a rare opportunity to focus on themselves -- although not in a self-centered, solipsistic way.  Self-reflection often proves difficult in our normal daily or weekly schedule. For these ten days, we can all focus on the engaging activities connected to each program in ways that aren’t complicated by the distractions of “normal” life

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The Mockingbird: Reflections on my Chair Program Experiences

Janice Pedrin-Nielson, 2016-17 van Otterloo Chair Program Recipient

I fervently hope that my experiences will enable me to help students begin to understand the complexity of identity and diversity in the world today, and that they will be encouraged through that understanding to explore new ways to live harmoniously on a global scale. I hope to encourage them to live in other places, too, so that they can begin to know what is meaningful and true in understanding culture. And I will always remind them about the mockingbird. 

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From the Archives: Holderness War Letters

Kelsey Berry, History Department Chair

Today we will hear from some of your historical peers.  They were young men, recent graduates of Holderness, who went to fight for their country.  This is a way of remembering their sacrifice, perhaps without glorifying it or the war.  Their words are not edited, but excerpted to focus on their service.  These letters are part of a largely unread collection in our archives. 

 

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