Head of School Blog: Celebration of BUA

Last night was a special one for BUA. Over 200 members of the extended BUA family — current and past parents, current and former teachers and staff, students, alumni, and friends of BUA — gathered together virtually to celebrate the remarkable success of this bold step in education that began 28 years ago. We heard live from long-time teachers Nick Dent and Dave Stone, from current students Tanay Nambiar ’22 and Saoirse Killian ’21, and from alumna Abby Walsh ’04. We heard from many more voices, past and present, like beloved retired teacher Phil Gambone, in a heartwarming video that set the tone for the evening. Despite the virtual format, it felt like a living room. It felt like family. I’m delighted that so many of you could join us. For those who could not, please enjoy this video of the evening.

Our speakers shared what they loved most about BUA. The stories varied; some were funny, like Dave Stone recounting how a crew boat ran aground because the coxswain was reading the Odyssey, some poignant like Saoirse telling us how she and some friends starting “Auggie and the Confessions,” a band putting music to St. Augustine’s words. Across all the speakers, though, there was a remarkable consistency. Since its founding, and still today, BUA is defined by a culture of deep curiosity among our students; a commitment to challenge in the classroom, with the loving support of a tremendous faculty; a pride in the unusual independence our students gain from this experience; and, most importantly, a promise that we will be kind to one another and that this place will feel like home for everyone who steps through our doors. 

This is not the same school that the first, adventurous cohort of students found in 1993. While still a small school, we are significantly bigger, both in terms of the student body and in the breadth of offerings in and outside the classroom. Our reputation has grown. The student body is significantly more diverse racially and socioeconomically; with students form 59 cities and towns, 57% of whom identify as students of color, and 31% of whom receive financial aid, BUA is arguably the most diverse school in our peer set. And there is a far greater commitment to socio-emotional health, equity and inclusion, and service. 

But the heart of BUA is the same. Last night was a beautiful testament to that.

As I mentioned in closing, I feel privileged to be joining the school at this time. My role, in many ways, is that of a caretaker. I feel a great sense of responsibility to steward this legacy: protecting those core values and providing this generation of students the same extraordinary experience that our graduates remember. At the same time, I have — we all have — an additional responsibility: to hold this school in trust for our children’s children. That means respecting our traditions while also innovating, so that BUA can celebrate its 30th, 50th, and 100th anniversary with the same pride and warmth we experienced last night. There is so much opportunity, and I look forward to doing that work together.

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