Raising the Bar
Brentwood’s Remembrance Day Ceremony hits all the right notes. It’s emotional, respectful, and impactful. Every year, however, a debate ensues around the world about the loss of significance of this most reflective of days. Some argue that the Millennials and Gen Z-ers are too occupied with their “likes” and “streaks” to pay deference to those who came before them.
In early November, I shared my Gen-Z concern with a wise staff member who reminded me that, “People, especially students, will rise to whatever challenge is thrown at them. We just have to set the standard, get out of their way and let them figure it out. They’ll get there. They always have.” It was a good reminder for me.
As a school, our job is to set the bar (behavioural, character, moral, excellence, community, service, humility, etc.). During this year’s Remembrance Day Ceremony, a bar was set by Mrs Widenmaier, Mr Sullivan, and our Houseparents. We hoped that our culture was clear enough and strong enough to, including the 200 new students who had never experienced it, get over that raised bar. Could they “get” the occasion, tradition, and moment?
I am proud to say that, over and over again, they did! From their respectful entry into the T. Gil Bunch Centre, to the singing of our national anthem in both official languages, to performances by students from grades 8 to 12, to sharing very personal stories that connected us to a global perspective, to sitting in silent reflection as we exited the Killy Theatre, to pinning our poppies on Brentwood’s Roll Of Honour. Much to my delight, they GOT IT. As with the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that day!
While this metaphoric bar clearly applied to last month’s ceremony, it also works with anything worth achieving - excelling in sporting contests, creating an artistic masterpiece, cleaning rooms for #1 inspection, or preparing for an upcoming test. The bar is always being set, adjusted and reset.
I would like to thank our staff for setting Brentwood’s bar high and then training, pushing, and prodding our students to reach that standard. They are amazing colleagues. While I appreciate the staff’s standard setting, students, too, have the power to set their bar high. Are they willing to sacrifice for their teammates? Can they embrace the critique from their art instructors? Did they give themselves enough time to clean their room? Did they prepare well for their test?
On November 11th, they proved that they GET IT, and now that we know that, the bar will be ratcheted up to an even higher level. As an educator of twenty-six years, I should have known that “They’ll get there. They always do.”
Thank you for sharing your children with us.
Bud Patel, Head of School