The 150th anniversary of the founding of Fay, which will be celebrated during the upcoming school year, calls for a school theme that encourages our students to reflect on the significance of this important milepost. By definition, anniversaries are retrospective, but they also offer the chance to re-affirm our responsibilities as stewards and caretakers of the things we hold dear. I’m pleased that the theme we have chosen, Honoring Our Legacy, is both backward-looking and forward-facing; it will enable us both to reflect on Fay’s past and to consider its future.
A legacy is something of value, usually immaterial, handed down from predecessors. It’s often the manifestation of traditions or customs inherited from ancestors and passed along from one generation to the next. A legacy is the heritage we have received – but it is also something we will pass on; we are both its recipients and its benefactors.
How, then, do we honor a legacy? Honoring something is fundamentally different from protecting or preserving it. We don’t honor what we value simply by holding it in esteem. Honoring our legacy involves integrity, commitment, and effort—not only out of respect for what we have been given, but also in recognition of our responsibility to live up to the values and expectations we have inherited and our determination to ensure that those ideals will endure.
We best honor our legacy by striving to embody the best aspects of what we have received: valuing and appreciating all we have received from the past, demonstrating those ideals as we live fully in the present, and planning intentionally for the future. Like it or not, our legacy isn’t static or fixed. It’s always changing and evolving. The question is not whether what we pass along will differ from what we have received; it’s whether we will choose to take an active, deliberate role in determining the nature of the legacy we will leave.
As Peter Drucker wrote, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” This notion is at the heart of the kinds of reflection we will undertake with our students, and it has been the impetus for the Fay Board of Trustees to consider key strategic questions throughout the past year. The Board has immersed itself in a comprehensive assessment of trends and issues that the School is likely to face in coming years and has begun to develop thoughtful, proactive approaches to addressing these challenges before they confront us. We look forward to sharing our findings and proposals.
Midst the enjoyment of our celebration next year, I’m hopeful that Fay’s sesquicentennial will prompt each of us to consider the legacy we want to leave, both as individuals and as members of the Fay community, and then set about to make that happen. Ultimately, that may be best way to honor all we have been so fortunate to receive and have the privilege to pass along.