The faculty and I returned yesterday with the Class of 2020 from their senior class trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This capstone class trip is an annual rite of passage that the senior class really cherishes. The memories the seniors created will be among their best and will last a lifetime. When I bump into an alumnus or alumna who graduated from Austin Prep in the last several years, the senior class trip to Disney World is frequently referenced as a highlight of their Austin Prep years.
An Austin Prep education is about forming the whole student and class trips such as these provide experiences not found in any book or classroom. The Class of 2020 is standing on the threshold of adulthood and we deliberately incorporate some independence for them on this trip. There’s a little less structure and a little more opportunity for students to figure it out for themselves. And like every senior class who traveled to Disney World before them, the Class of 2020 conducted themselves with the responsibility we expect and value.
As a community, we have every right to be proud of the Class of 2020. I certainly was. Traveling with 135 students is an event where things can go sideways – no secret there. Austin Prep’s Class of 2020, however, exemplified our values and it was obvious to those we encountered on the trip. Airline employees and tour operators and random Disney guests passed along a kind word to me about our students. And those commendations are a credit to the parents of the Class of 2020 who raised courteous and considerate young men and women – and to their teachers who travel with them, both literally and figuratively, on their Austin Prep Journey.
December is always a busy month at Austin Prep, but somehow this year seems busier. Because Thanksgiving was late this year, there are fewer shopping days until Christmas and there is still so much to prepare. Lessons and Carols is this Thursday evening, December 12. A centuries-old tradition, Lessons and Carols is a heartwarming journey that foretells the prophecy of the birth Christ through scripture and song and will conclude with some carols that we all know and love to sing.
Over the weekend on December 14 and December 15, our students will orchestrate Austin Prep’s annual performance of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker – a tradition at Austin Prep for nearly 30 years that’s filled with student creativity and faculty cameos. I hope you can find some time to join us for one of the performances.
And finally to round out a very busy month, Austin Prep’s Chorus will be traveling to Rome during the Christmas recess for a once-in-lifetime-opportunity to sing for Pope Francis during a papal mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Chorus will also perform during mass in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi and a formal concert in the Church of St. Ignatius open to the citizen of Rome. Sixty pilgrims from Austin Prep – family, friends, and staff – will be traveling with the Chorus in solidarity.
Please accept my prayerful best wishes for a very Merry Christmas surrounded by the love of family and friends and a year ahead of good health and the peace that only the Christ Child can bring.