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An important message from our Head of School Bart Bronk to our University Liggett School families

By Bart Bronk
Head of School

Dear University Liggett School Community:

It is with a tremendously heavy heart that we have watched events unfold across the country this past week.

A nation already severely impacted by an unprecedented pandemic now grapples with significant and widespread outrage and unrest, fueled by the ways in which George Floyd’s senseless and tragic death, and other recent events, call into dramatic relief the persistent and unequal challenges – and, indeed, threats – that black and brown Americans face navigating the public arena and its systems and institutions.

We grieve for the Floyd family and for all who have encountered similar unjustified brutality. We grieve for those whose peaceful demonstrations have been met with violence. We grieve for those who have been injured, or whose livelihoods have been affected, by those who would co-opt these protests for purposes of violence, theft, and destruction.

And we grieve for our students, for whom this moment, for all its complexity and tragedy, is so difficult to process. We have heard these past few days from many about the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty they feel. We have heard from our students of color about the ways in which these events remind them, painfully, of the systemic inequity that exists in the greater world. We have heard from white students who wish to understand how to best support their peers and friends and to use their voices to create a more just world.

Our job, as educators, is to support our students in making meaning of the world they inhabit. This task is always paramount, but even more so in times when that world is enormously complicated. The vicissitudes of our current remote format, and the timing of the end of the year, make that job more difficult, but no less important. Please know that students who need support or space to process these events need look no further than a trusted adult to whom they should not hesitate to reach out, now or in the weeks ahead. We are glad many already have.

Since Rev. Meredith Jackson crossed the threshold of Cook Road in the fall of 1966 and integrated GPUS, University Liggett School has strived to be an institution that recognizes the inherent strength of a diverse community and emphasizes those skills that foster such unity. As with all complex processes of human development, this work is rarely perfect, but we continually endeavor to evolve to better approach the ideals characterized so powerfully in our mission statement: to “empower students to develop intellectual curiosity, leadership and confidence to contribute to a complex and changing world” and to “teach and practice the values of respect and responsibility in an emotionally and physically safe environment.” These principles are further reinforced by our Diversity Statement, which notes that “our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion stems from our respect for the dignity, worth and value of all individuals…. It is an indispensable element of our goal to develop students who are active citizens in a pluralistic world.”

The events of the last week only serve to reaffirm our commitment to these vital goals. University Liggett School will remain a safe haven for our students, one in which racism has no quarter, and one in which the dignity and worth of each individual is celebrated and protected. We will continue our efforts to not only prepare students with the skills and dispositions to navigate a complex and changing world with confidence, leadership, responsibility for self, and respect for others, but also to be agents of change as they seek to shape and, indeed, advance the “more perfect union” our framers envisioned some 233 years ago.

Sincerely,

Bart Bronk
Head of School