May 30, 2020
Dear RCDS Students and Faculty,
I write today about deeply sad events at the front of many of our minds. As a nation, we have followed the coverage of the disturbing deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. Earlier this week, and closer to home, we saw a man, Christian Cooper, bird watching in Central Park endure a threatening and racist experience. These recent events are overwhelmingly tragic and deeply disturbing.
Were we together in person, I would want to speak with you during an assembly. I would begin by quoting a portion of the Rye Country Day School Mission Statement: We expect and promote moral responsibility and strive to develop strength of character within a respectful school community. And, I would argue that these values can and must go far beyond our campus.
Part of moral responsibility means acknowledging the tragic reality of racism—historic, systemic, and current—that millions of Americans and members of our RCDS community experience every day. Strength of character means that we must be anti-racist; we must be upstanders. A respectful school community is a place where everyone should feel safe, but also a place where someone can say "I'm scared," or "I am sad, angry, fearful, confused, disillusioned, or exhausted." It is also a place in which you can ask "how can I better understand what is happening, and how can I do something to address this important matter?" If you are feeling any of these things, know that you are not alone. The RCDS community is with all of you. Ours is a school in which you are safe and in which you belong.
As a community, we have a voice, and we have the ability to support one another, even from a distance. Let us share empathetically the many emotions resurfaced by this recent awful news. Listen to one another; learn from one another, and be there for one another. Next week, you will hear from Mr. Morgan about opportunities to process together as a community via Zoom. We will gather for a discussion and resource-sharing session on community and social justice as they relate to these terrible events and the injustices they reflect. Many of you have already reached out to Mr. Morgan or your teachers, advisors, deans, and counselors, and I am grateful for that. Please continue to reach out to our community for support.
Together, we will process and grieve. Together, we will ask critical questions and share emotions. Together, we will support one another and do our part to help make a positive difference in our community and beyond.
Scott A. Nelson