Tuesday night, the 18 members of the class of 2015 who are running for Prefect gave their candidate speeches to the school community. Assistant Head of School and Dean of Students, Chris Baudo, began the evening with some remarks about the process and its importance to our school. I share them with you here:
Let’s begin tonight with some guidelines or recommendations. 18 of your peers sit before you in quite possibly the most intimidating moment to date in their short lives. They want badly for this experience and their delivery to be flawless. Listen to their message, and in doing so display support for their effort. This group certainly exhausted a great deal of physical time and emotional energy over the past month, and it stands as the pinnacle moment to date for the candidates. Support is something we do better than any other school, and tonight provides us with another opportunity to proudly display that community trait. We also recommend that this one speech not be the sole reason you vote for a candidate. I think we can agree that the most influential leaders never take a day off. They are tone setters who prove reliable in their decision making and actions. The young women and men sitting in front of you have had, at minimum, seven months to display their ability lead our school forward next year. Take into account everything you know about them rather than one speech when deciding if they are best suited to lead us forward next year.
The Prefect elections provide all of us with our first opportunity to begin shaping the next school year. The process forces us to think deeply about who we are, what we value most, who we aspire to be, and which group of six seniors can help us inch closer to our ideal vision. Based on the recent survey results, and assuming that we put quality thinking into our responses, the student body collectively wants leaders who are HONEST, SUPPORTIVE, and EXCELLENT CITIZENS above all else. You seemingly want people who set the ethical bar as high as possible, and then more importantly meet that standard every day. Still, I also ask you to think tonight about adding the characteristic of COURAGE to your vision of a leader. In my mind, COURAGE is what separates the well-liked and respected role model from a true leader. Don’t get me wrong, a role model is something we all should strive to be, but to be a role model does NOT make you a leader. The difference lies in the level of courage that one must show. It certainly takes courage to be a role model, because being a role model usually means, to some level, going against popular culture. It simply isn’t cool to do everything the right way. It definitely takes courage, but as a role model, the decisions you make tend to be geared towards insuring that “you” meet the standards set forth by yourself or the institution.
Leaders, on the other hand, need the courage to make decisions that impact the world around them, and for us, those decisions specifically impact The Gunnery. Gunnery leaders are often confronted with ethical decisions that impact people well beyond their individual selves-decisions that impact the school, and in most cases, students within the school. Disagreeing with an peer’s idea, preventing a friend from making a bad decision, or being the positive voice during a potentially negative stretch-a Gunnery leader—or any leader—must follow their moral compass and make decisions in the best interest of the community, with the knowledge that doing so might jeopardize their social status. Leaders make decisions that people will not necessarily “like” or approve of, because they recognize that the betterment of the school must be placed ahead of their own place within the social pipeline. COURAGE…MORAL COURAGE…the willingness to do what is right in the face of potential consequence…it is what separates role models and leaders, and it is what we should attempt to build within, and expect of, our own at The Gunnery. Tonight, we will begin with Colin Kanuch.