From Luck to Love: Together, We Can Rise
By Tony Sedun, an MHS Middle Division Teacher
“Change comes hard in America, but it comes constantly.” These words were written by the American novelist and journalist Anna Quindlen in her essay “Melting Pot” back in 1986.
Today, in the spring of 2020, we can appreciate this wisdom that has a long shelf-life.
Like so many stakeholders at Milton Hershey School, I will not soon forget Friday, March 13, 2020. That was the last day of in-person schooling for us campus-wide. From what I gather, it is the first time in the 110-year history of MHS that there has been such an interruption to in-person schooling. Indeed, a similar reality has since faced many schools across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as well as schools across the United States of America.
Bad luck? Good luck? No luck? Not a chance. I’ve never been one prone to superstitions, apart from on occasion in my youth. Sometimes I’d go fishing down at the old pond near my parents’ house. I’d cast out near the reeds on the far side of the pond and suppose if I stood just like this, or twitched the rod just like that—that somehow it would trigger a bite from a largemouth bass waiting beyond my reach.
But that was then. With time, we grow to see the power we once placed in superstitions is better placed in recognizing realities in front of us, seeing patterns as they emerge, and making choices to improve our situations and the situations of those we love.
Right now, our students, parents/sponsors, houseparents, staff, teachers, administrators, and all other stakeholders who live and work at MHS are called upon to meet the challenges of changes required with virtual learning. Clinging to superstitions of the past will not help anyone in any way. We are called to not simply adjust or adapt, but rather to find in the changes the ongoing arenas in which our students can encounter authenticity, challenge, purpose, and success. We are called to grow beyond the biases and prejudices of teaching and learning to now encompass a frontier many of us might not have believed we were ready to explore.
The times are tough, no doubt. Most especially, the burden is greatest on those who have contracted the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), those who may be at higher risk for it, or those who care for the sick and the suffering. The burden is felt, as well, for those whose families suffer job loss, missing work and wages, or further isolation because of the uncertainty all around.
In every case, we can choose to rise to the occasions of change and challenge with a spirit of decency, diligence, and duty. So, let us cast our lines far across the pond. Let us walk intentionally along the path set before us. For our hope is as real as the day, and our love for our school and society is as great as the journey ahead.