SJA Summer Educational Symposium

Love Those the Most Who Need it the Most

March 30, 2021

This was the message our community learned from the words and actions lived out by Melissa Jenkins. For those of you who didn’t have a chance to know her, Ms. Jenkins was a wonderful woman, mother, teacher, dorm proctor, coach, and friend. Tragically, she was taken from us far too soon. Her message however, resonated with all of us as we grieved the loss of such a wonderful person in March of 2012. Today, I honor her memory by wearing pink—a symbol of our commitment to continue living out her message of loving those who need it the most.

 

Melissa’s message and those words are as powerful to hear now as they were when we mourned together as a community. The simple truth of her message is not so easy to live out each and every day.

 

Think about this with me for a moment—what does it actually mean to love those the most who need it the most? How are we to know who, on any given day, might need our love the most? Perhaps this message becomes even more difficult to live out when we are constantly faced with challenging circumstances: disappointments in what we wanted the year to look like, COVID fatigue, mask fatigue, fear of failure, fear of not being accepted, intolerance of those who do not think or feel the way that we do.

 

There is no question these are challenging times, and with these circumstances it’s hard to admit we are not at our best. It’s difficult to accept we need to be vulnerable with one another, it’s hard to know who we are safe with because everything we have grown up with is different, and we are afraid—and that’s ok. It’s ok to emote, it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to say you don’t have it all together, because the truth is, none of us do. Not a single one of us has lived through a pandemic prior to now. Everyone wants answers. Everyone wants normalcy. Everyone wants what, quite frankly, we just cannot have right now. And that is hard to accept.

 

Parents are watching their children struggle in ways they never could have imagined. You all are watching as your parents and teachers respond and react to the next tick on the dial, to the next story on the news, or to the next polarizing political agenda. We are all on edge, and when humans are on edge it becomes so much easier to jump to conclusions and say things that are unkind. I’m not saying that sometimes there aren’t hard messages that need to be delivered. Quite frankly, sometimes loving someone that much, hurts.

 

Today, I ask you all to press pause, to take a deep breath, and to know we are in this together. Let us all find a way to love someone who needs it. Today, in honor of Ms. Jenkins, love the one the most who you can see needs it the most—not with just your words, but in your own genuine actions and kindness. Loving people is hard work. Loving them when they need us the most is even harder. Today, and every day, love will win.

 

Today, in honor of Ms. Jenkins­—let’s choose to love together.

 

Beth Choiniere

Assistant Headmaster for Campus Life

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