Yesterday’s disturbing news about Mr. Bruzual’s arrest is on the front page of the paper today, and it was the lead story on last night’s newscast. Certainly this situation raises a lot of emotions—anger, confusion, sadness, concern—and a lot of questions. I can’t answer most of them; I don’t know the whats or the whys, but I want to focus on two questions this morning—questions to which I do have some clear answers.
First, what should we do now? This news is a heavy burden that comes at a tired and tough time of year. Emotions are high—we are about to have our first extended break since August—and so my first piece of advice is to give each other a break. Forgive slights and faults, encourage each other to keep going, support each other when we stumble or fall or get hurt.
My second piece of advice is to keep working. The workload is heavy for some of you—Capstones, AOIs, projects—but the work is meaningful and you have talents to share and develop. Focus on doing your job one day at a time. Hang tough, focus, and live out all those messages about grit and resilience.
Third, trust in our ability to take care of each other. Lots of people are concerned about people they care about. Parents, consultants, community members—everyone wants to know if we will take care of each other, if we are watching out for those most affected. I can assure you that we are doing all we can for Mrs. Bruzual and her children, the advisees, dorm students, and other students most affected. If you know someone who is struggling, let us know, or bring them to the Nurse’s Office, Campus Life Office, or Guidance, where we can get them help. We have seen the power and goodness of this school community when we decide to love one another.
This leads me to my second question: how will we define ourselves? This event has placed us in the spotlight. In some people’s minds, we will be the school that had the teacher arrested, and our identity in their minds, will be tied to the acts of one man—acts over which we had no control whatsoever. However, just by looking at today’s paper, we could also be the school that celebrates local culture—as our French program got front-page coverage of their French in Our Region collaboration—or we could be defined by our Culinary program that is featured on page 3 as they won the state culinary competition. The reality is that as a community, just as we are not responsible for any one person’s private acts, we are also not totally responsible for the successes of talented students, faculty, or staff. Though both positive and negative acts by a few can put us in the spotlight, they cannot define us. If we want to find something that legitimately defines us, it needs to be something for which we can all be responsible.
As an example of what I am talking about, I want to share with you part of an email I received last night:
I am writing to you, as you may assume, in regards to the arrest of Mr. Bruzual. Firstly, my parents and I greatly appreciate the level of professional communication our faculty, staff and administration displayed today.
My interactions with Mr. Bruzual have been limited. I sit directly behind his advisory in chapel, and in the past few hours I have reflected on my experiences involving Mr. Bruzual. I have seen him with the members of his advisory: sharing conversation, smiling, and interacting with them as any advisor would. On some days he stood during chapel, allowing each member of his advisory to have a seat. Because my advisory shares part of his chapel row, I have at times needed to scoot past him in order to claim my last-minute Chapel spot.
It is easy to look back and remember events differently based upon one's current state of mind. I could easily judge Mr. Bruzual based on others' opinions, media coverage, or the fact that I am disgusted by his actions—if he is in fact to be proven guilty. I could say that he always "creeped me out", or that I got a bad feeling from him, but that would be a lie. I never once felt threatened or uncomfortable.
Please do not take this email as my justification to his actions; as I stated before, his alleged crimes are appalling, and in my mind nothing can justify child pornography. I am simply trying to express my opinions, possibly vent my feelings, and to lend support to my Headmaster.
It has come to my attention that students without all of the facts are posting unnecessary, inappropriate, and sometimes harsh things on social media sites such as Facebook. As you know already: people talk, rumors spread and it is impossible to address each unwanted post. However, seeing as how students are pointing blame towards our school for the actions of one possibly disturbed man, I would appreciate if you addressed what it means to be a part of a community.
Members of his advisory (Dalton Lavely especially) tried to make a stand against negative posts by asking for things to come down. I watched his attempts as they were attacked by several cynical and rude comments.
Personally, I was disgusted to read some students' posts….
My hope for humanity was rescued by students who took the initiative to stand against such slurs. These students are not a part of NHS or Student Government or even Student Council but proved to me their honor, their responsibility, their integrity, and frankly their common sense. As you will read, these students say it best.
“I’m sorry…how exactly can you put blame on the school for the actions of one individual…Seems kind of moronic to me…” (Isaac Bacon, Junior)
“If you don’t like the school then simply don’t go there, not the school’s fault, if anything they took the best actions they could have and banned him from the school property and sent emails out to family and parents of all the students.” (Sam Grenier, Junior)
These are just a few of the many who used their words to stick up for our school and its actions in this time of difficulty.
Thank you for your action in resolving this matter, and I look forward to your thoughts in Chapel tomorrow.
(Class of) 2015
Kaylee’s words show an answer to my second question: how do we define ourselves? Not by our bad actions, not by our good actions, but by our love for one another. I have done bad things, and I have done some good, but when I ask myself how I define myself or who I am in the world, I ask myself how well I love others. And at this time of Thanksgiving, I can think of few things I am more thankful for than the love of this community, of family, and friends. It has sustained and comforted me and my family when our two-year old daughter Clare died, it has supported and inspired me constantly as headmaster, especially in the hard times of the past few years, and it is what I trust in and believe in most when I think about who we are. Let’s hold on to that now when things are dark, and let that be the light that defines us.—Tom Lovett, Headmaster