When I walk across campus these days, I marvel at how much things are changing. As someone who has pretty much grown up on this campus, I have to admit that all of the changes are a bit disorienting. The building that I always called the Junior School is now an art and science building. The High School circle is demolished. The pond is drained. The Science Wing, the High School lobby, the theatre, and the commons are all in the middle of renovations. There are several parts of campus that would be unrecognizable to many alumni.
There are also a lot of new faces on campus this year. The cohort of new faculty and staff is one of the largest incoming groups that I can recall in all of my years at Priory. I’m still getting used to the shuffle of offices and desks, and there are moments when I find myself headed in the wrong direction when looking for someone.
Change is not an easy thing for an institution whose identity is rooted in the 1500-year tradition of Benedictine monasticism.
If I ever feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of change, a few moments in the Abbey Church on a Friday morning remind me of the stability of our mission. There is a familiarity to the scene: Boys dressed in coats and ties sitting in their designated class bays, parents and faculty sitting in the back rows, the community of monks chanting in the choir stalls. When watching the monks pray together, as they have for more than sixty years, I am reminded of the stability and longevity of this faith community.
I also get a sense of stability when I see John Mohrmann still coaching soccer (30 years at Priory) or Tony Finan teaching history (40 years). While we navigate a flurry of changes, there is comfort in having these experienced educators there to share their wisdom and experiences.
Knowing that our mission and identity remain unchanged allows me to be really excited about the changes that are occurring on campus. Our new art and science building is beautiful and will provide a space where those programs can thrive. I now eagerly await for other renovation projects to be completed this year. Our new faculty members have also jumped right in and have already done amazing things in and out of the classroom. I am so delighted to have them join the faculty because I know that our students will benefit from their enthusiasm and mastery of their subjects.
It is an exciting time for our school. The past few years have certainly challenged us, but they have made us a stronger community, and there is a great deal of hope for the future. I am so looking forward to this year.
Mr. Mike Nickolai '03
Assistant Head of School for Human and Spiritual Formation