Iswari Natarajan, High School Principal

Fear of the unknown can often hold us captive. In the face of fear, when we choose to enter the arena, place one foot in front of the other, and pivot if we need to, that's when we grow. That's when we spread our wings and soar! This new academic year is calling all of us to do just that - to show up in the face of uncertainty with courage, flexibility, grace, and compassion. I start every academic year with a town meeting at Snow Mountain Ranch with our students. The entire high school student body huddled close together with the beautiful backdrop of our Rocky Mountains is the perfect setting to come together as a community. I have often felt that I wouldn't have it any other way, but this year was different. I  ZOOMed in from my HS office into the Swivl units in every classroom (a sentence I never imagined I would say). We were all masked up and physically distanced. It couldn't be further away from our usual setting, but it was pure magic. Even though we were six feet apart, we were together at heart like never before. The feeling of community was palpable. I would like to share the two "calls to action" that I shared with the students:

  • Mask up, stay 6' apart, and protect our community: This first week made us all realize how much we have missed being together. Staying open during these times and having school in-person is a privilege that is not lost on any of us. So, we collectively promised to do our part to protect our community.

  • Shed the inner mask you wear, be you, and belong: To navigate high school, often, students wear an inner mask, project an image to fit in, and conceal their inner self. Fitting in is about how others perceive us and what they think of our actions. Belonging comes when we are real and authentic. Choose to belong instead of fitting in. Always. So, we decided to each take one step to shed our inner mask, be unapologetically ourselves, and belong.

I am often caught bragging about our SMirls like a proud mama, but this year, more than ever,  my heart is overflowing with pride as we start the new year that promises to be full of confounding challenges and extraordinary opportunities. I invite you all to be here, be you, and belong!