Dear Parents,

As we begin our fifth full week of Virtual Haverford, I remain grateful for the efforts of the faculty and staff, the families, and especially the boys. There is nothing normal about the time we are living through, which is of a global significance comparable to a World War or the Great Depression. Our teammates and boys are displaying courage, resilience, and determination on a scale and in a manner that reflects well on the Haverford men who faced generational challenges in decades past, and I am proud of the way we are collectively writing our page in history. We are saving the lives of our fellow Americans and each other, and we should not lose sight of that fact.

It is more important than ever to preserve the health and wellness of ourselves and of each other. I am declaring Friday, May 8 a Headmaster's Holiday; there will be no school and no homework. I encourage you to enrich your minds, bodies, and spirits in a meaningful way, and to come back on Monday, May 11 ready to complete the final four weeks of school dedicated and inspired. For the same reason, we are continuing our scheduled four-day Memorial Day weekend in honor of those, including many Haverford men, who fell in our nation’s conflicts.
It was the day after I wrote my last letter in this series that Governor Wolf announced that school would not reopen this school year, and last week Montgomery County announced that there would be no in-person high school graduation ceremonies this year. These announcements were not unexpected, but they were heavy blows to our hopes of preserving as much as we could of a usual spring for the boys.

But we rolled up our sleeves and decided to do what we could for them, in a virtual context. The efforts began with a virtual Scholarship Luncheon to honor both our scholarship recipients and those who provide the resources to enable them to attend Haverford. They continued with a pre-prom champagne toast to the parents of the Class of 2020; it breaks our hearts that the Sixth Form boys will not have the joys of completing their Haverford School journey arm in arm with their classmates. I was privileged to be able to discuss the stoic and inspiring way these young men have come to terms with the new realities of life in an age of COVID-19, and to acclaim their leadership, but I know that the absence of an actual prom is a lasting gap in their Haverford memories.

scholarship luncheon Class of 2020 toast
We will do what we can to provide as many of the memories that mark the final chapter of a Haverford School career as possible. The following events will continue virtually (visit for details and updates):
  • Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day: May 8, celebrating the connection between our Lower School boys and their grandparents or special friends
  • Signing Day: May 11, recognizing our senior athletes who will continue their athletic career in college
  • Cum Laude Society Induction: May 27 @ 5 p.m., honoring scholastic achievement in secondary schools
  • Hephaestus Society Induction: May 28 @ 5 p.m., honoring excellence in academically focused extracurricular activities
  • Lower School Moving Up Ceremony, June 1 @ 8:45 a.m., celebrating our fifth grade boys’ passage into the Middle School, with an in-person celebration planned for Tuesday, Sept. 8
  • Middle School Moving Up Ceremony, June 2 @ 10:30 a.m., celebrating our Form II boys’ passage into the Upper School, with an in-person celebration planned for Tuesday, Sept. 8
  • Honors Day: June 4, celebrating select academic and athletic achievements of boys
  • Class of 2020 Celebration: June 4 and 5, honoring the Class of 2020. We will host a toast to the Class of 2020 the evening before Commencement, and a virtual Commencement ceremony that honors each boy and his achievement will be released at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 5. We encourage the boys to wear their maroon blazers, which are in production, during the virtual ceremony, and to watch it in the company of their whole family -- including members who must remain at a distance. This cannot and will not replace the experience of celebrating together in person, and we know this; therefore, we are planning an in-person celebration of the Class of 2020 on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020 -- during Thanksgiving week when most of the boys will be back home from college. There will indeed be much to be grateful for on that day if we are able to gather in person!
Our planned celebrations of current fifth grade and Form II boys on Sept. 8 is also the day that marks the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Middle School! Construction on that project began again, with industry-leading precautions for the health of the workers, last week. It is highly likely that we will have to take precautions concerning the health of the faculty and the boys this fall as well when we return to in-person teaching and learning, but those instructions -- like so much more -- will be shared when we have more information.
I am enormously proud of the teaching and the learning that has marked Virtual Haverford. We have begun virtual Parent Coffees with Division Heads, some of which I have been able to join; I am grateful not only for the strong attendance, but also for the spirit of “we’re all in this together” that has marked the conversations so far.
5th grade book spine poetry
treasure island board game
virtual woodworking
We are continuing to plan for additional events to continue to learn and grow together, including a virtual Alumni Weekend event on May 1 and our Best for Boys Speaker Series event on The Science of Reading on May 6, held in partnership with Tredyffrin Public Library. While these events cannot take the place of personal connection and interaction, they are crucial components of our continued commitment to fulfilling our mission of preparing boys for life.
You may have been following along with #HaverfordHelps, in which we profile members of our community who are on the front lines fighting this pandemic. It's hard to imagine a time I've been more proud to be a Ford, as I watch our alumni and parents rally around one another, our boys lean into a new mode of learning and connecting, and our faculty and coaches give their all to deliver an exceptional education from a distance. I'll be writing to you next week with more of these inspiring stories, all testaments to our shared humanity.
As we move forth, support each other, be kind to yourself, and strive to embody the core virtues that connect and align us through our past, present, and future.

Go Fords!

Headmaster John Nagl
John A. Nagl, D.Phil.
Ninth Headmaster
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