We started this school year with three primary goals. Like every year, we on the faculty renewed our annual commitment to the ideal that the children under our care are known, challenged, and loved. Secondly, we agreed to encourage and nurture intentional acts of kindness more completely into the Randolph culture. And lastly, we pledged to work diligently to remain one school community with two campuses.
Over the past couple of weeks, one important initiative and one spectacular event have underscored how very important it is that we live out the goal of being a single K-12 community. After Spring Break, students in every division at Randolph launched a partnership with the African Children’s Educational Initiative (ACEII) to support Walker National High School in Uganda. Rodger Qualls leads ACEII from Huntsville, and makes periodic trips to Uganda to support this initiative and to keep our two communities connected. We are adopting sixty Ugandan girls (which represents the sum total of our Lower School classrooms, Middle School homerooms, and Upper School advisories) and providing for their basic daily needs for learning, including uniforms, books, and supplies.
In the Lower School, students are sending classroom letters and photographs to the one Ugandan student that each class has been assigned. In the Middle School, students in homeroom are writing individual letters and sending photographs of Randolph to their individual student. And in the Upper School, students in advisory are submitting biographical paragraphs and sending photographs of themselves and their advisory group to the individual Ugandan girl the group is sponsoring.
Each classroom, homeroom, and advisory group is charged with raising $50 to buy necessary school supplies for their sponsored student. But the larger point of this initiative goes well beyond a typical fundraiser that is here today and gone tomorrow and is sometimes sweetened by a “Break the Dress Code Day” to encourage student participation. Instead, the clear expectation here is that our students will each connect personally with a Ugandan child, and, over a period of time, that a relationship will develop between our two schools and between our students and the girls attending Walker National High School.
The Randolph community is knit together in this instance by a common commitment to service of others as an important part of the School’s mission. We’re looking into the possibility that the partnership with ACEII and the Ugandan girls can last for many years so that our students grow up with a meaningful relationship beyond our shores.
A second instance of extraordinary K-12 community life was last week’s production of Oliver! Theater superstar Connie Voight cast fifty-seven students representing all three divisions. Scores of others pitched in to build an incredible set, run the lights, create and organize the costumes, apply the makeup, sell the tickets, and run the concessions. And our own Julian Bryson directed the music magnificently and worked with an orchestra including students, faculty, parents, and community musicians.
It was, in the end, an incredible performance. We saw stars on stage emerge before our eyes, and we watched as a very complicated production came together last week. Most importantly, our students were challenged to invest in an endeavor larger than their individual selves, and the inter-divisional relationships that were formed and developed have provided all who participated with a memory to last a lifetime.
Connie Voight stepped up to provide us with an extraordinary opportunity. I love that Oliver! connected us K-12, and I am very gratified to see the Randolph Center for the Arts being used to advance the School’s mission and make good on a goal we identified at the beginning of the year.
Taken together, both ACEII and Oliver! remind me that we at Randolph have been blessed with so much. It is our responsibility to share those blessings with others and make the most of the many benefits of the Garth Campus and of being a part of the Randolph community.