Dear Alumni, Parents, Faculty, and Staff of The Haverford School,

We face a historic set of crises in our nation: the worst pandemic in a century, the worst economic depression since 1929, and the worst civic unrest since 1968. The crises are multiplying each other’s effects, and the net result should be deeply troubling for all Americans. American society is not as equal as we would like it to be, and freedom is not evenly distributed.

As a man who fought for freedom, I feel a profound sense of sadness but also of duty: sadness for the experiences of Black and Brown people – including those in our own community – and duty to stand up and help be part of the solution. As James Baldwin said, "There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now." We cannot wait for tomorrow – we must stand together today.

I have heard from our families, our faculty, and our alumni about outrage, fear, and anguish around George Floyd's killing in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery's shooting in Georgia, Chris Cooper's interaction in New York, Breonna Taylor's shooting in Kentucky, and the civil unrest happening right here in Philadelphia. I have heard about experiences of hurt and harm, including within our own community. And I stand with you.
At The Haverford School, we profoundly believe in the three core values of respect, honesty, and courage: respect for each and every person, regardless of race, color, creed, or religion; honesty to face and tell the truth, even when doing so is painful; courage to do what is right, every time. We expect all of our boys to display these virtues on a daily basis, and they should expect no less from us.

I encourage each of you to talk with your children, your colleagues, your neighbors about the events they are seeing in the news, in an age-appropriate way. Urge your children to work to create a just and equitable America that treasures the unique gifts each of us bring to our communities. Help them to understand the enduring stain of racism in American history. Support them in living their lives not just as people who are not racist, but as anti-racists: people who actively fight against racism in every shape, form, and manner it presents itself. Current times, while unsettling and difficult, provide an opportunity for learning and for growth – for our boys, for ourselves, for our city, and for our nation.

Lower, Middle, and Upper School Division Heads, in partnership with our Director of Diversity and Inclusion and our Director of Community, will be in touch with readings and learning resources for your sons to process what is going on and to find ways to help. We all have much work to do to build a more perfect union, and I urge you to join us in that effort.
John A. Nagl, D.Phil.
Ninth Headmaster 
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