- Head's Letter
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We often hear that Walnut Hill is a unique community. While there are many reasons for this, one recent and particularly illustrative example was our annual celebration of Patriots’ Day. Because we embrace “community” as one of our five core values here at the School, students, faculty, and staff come together annually and put their hearts and energy into a day of celebrating community, from both a local and an international perspective. In partnership with the Natick Service Council, an important organization that supports neighbors who are experiencing hardship or economic uncertainty, our classes sponsor local Boston Marathon runners who are participating in the race to support the NSC. This year, we were excited that our very own Tom Keenan, Dorm Parent and Head of the Science and Math Department, took part in the Boston Marathon as an NSC runner. The morning here at Walnut Hill included a visit from a special assembly speaker, Kelly Allan McLay, who ran and won the World Marathon Challenge and the wonderful opportunity to walk to downtown Natick and cheer on marathon runners as they passed by, right in the center of town. The ability to celebrate a world-class sporting event in our backyard is truly a gift.
In the afternoon, we turned our attention to celebrating the diversity of the Walnut Hill community. Our second annual CultureFest was an opportunity for students and faculty to celebrate and experience the many cultural activities that are practiced in our community. It is a wonderful opportunity to pause from our busy regular schedules in order to focus on connecting with one another and broadening our perspectives through sharing cultural practices and traditions.
I am also pleased to announce this year’s Graduation speaker. We are so fortunate to have Rev. Derrick Harkins P’18 as our 2018 Commencement speaker. Prior to his appointment as Senior Vice President for Innovations in Public Programming at Union Seminary in New York City, Dr. Harkins served as pastor of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, DC, where he led the congregation in initiatives ranging from providing health education and access, to supporting international relief and development. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Dr. Harkins was named National Director of Faith Outreach for the Democratic National Committee, and advised the Obama administration on a number of faith-related issues.
Dr. Harkins has been a guest lecturer discussing church and social action at a number of colleges and universities, including Bucknell, Cornell, Iona, and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has preached and been extensively engaged in relief and development work in Rwanda, Burkina Faso, and Jamaica, and has also contributed to the work of Search for Common Ground USA as well as Many Voices on the issue of marriage equality. An active voice in the debate for comprehensive immigration reform, he has worked closely with the Immigration Policy Center, and Esperanza for America to expand the combined immigration reform efforts of the African American and Latino communities. He has appeared in a number of media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and NPR, and has written for the Sojourners blog God’s Politics. It is particularly special to have Dr. Harkins as our speaker this year, as he and his wife, Juli, are the parents of dance major Shannon, who will be graduating from Walnut Hill this June. I am extremely excited and honored to have Dr. Harkins speak to our graduates.
Finally, our ability to serve our students and families has historically come from those individuals who are inspired to invest in Walnut Hill toward making our School as strong as it can be. This support opens up opportunities for our current students and also helps ensure that future Walnuts will have the capacity to be part of this vibrant, creative community. In that spirit, we hope you will participate on Give Day, May 22, to help support our Annual Fund; gifts of all sizes make a difference.
As we near the beginning of May, the campus is in bloom and the long, bright spring days are lifting our spirits and providing inspiration for the busy weeks to come. It is undeniable that we are entering into the final stretch of the school year. We look forward to continuing this work of celebrating our community through attending the many upcoming performances and coming together as we observe our end-of-year traditions.
Head of School
- Boston Marathon
- culture festival
- Patriots Day