To our students, parents, faculty, and friends,

We always look forward the beginning of a new year, greeting returning families and welcoming new members of our school community.

We begin this year in the midst of national turmoil and sorrow.  Sorrow for the loss of a young woman practicing her First Amendment guarantee to peaceably assemble, sorrow for witnessing so many young men and women carrying the Nazi flag and chanting anti-Semitic words, sorrow for the division among our fellow Americans.

Here is what I know: America is an idea that is big and bold.  American democracy is a system that speaks to the highest ideals of human aspiration.  We cannot achieve those ideas without struggle. When we find ourselves in those destabilizing moments when national character feels fractured, we call upon those who came before us.  Their legacies carry our national character and affirm our national values.  The founder of Plymouth Village, William Bradford, told his small community in 1620 that “all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties.”  And Americans have been engaged in the struggle toward a more perfect union since that time.  Thaddeus Stevens spent most of his life arguing on behalf of the fundamental beliefs embedded in our Constitution and Frederick Douglass said, the question to ask is whether the American people had sufficient  “loyalty, honor, and patriotism to live up to their own Constitution.”

I believe that we do.  We have proven time and again, yes with great struggle and even hate, that in the final analysis, we will stand by the ideals of equality.

We have had the Nazi white nationalism argument before as well as its twin, the Ku Klux Klan and their vile world view.  The concept of racial supremacy has no place in America.  The United States has always risen above the diminished world view of bigotry and has vanquished the hate that feeds it.  It has not been easy and we have stumbled greatly on our quest toward a more perfect union, but our higher ideals have emerged and galvanized us.  We have prevailed in our laws, in our courts, and in our neighborhoods.

At Thaddeus Stevens School we remain committed to the legacy of our founding ideas of equality and justice for all.  We will continue to read and listen to powerful arguments of our forebears.  We will dedicate ourselves to presenting a full history of our nation, inclusive of the ebbs and flows of our greatness. We will teach thoughtful discourse. We will embrace democracy and all that it demands.