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Musings on Keystone’s legacy at 70

August 20, 2018
By Bill Spedding

"Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see."
- Lin-Manuel Miranda

As is the case with most fathers of young teenage daughters, I am more than a little familiar with Miranda’s paean to America in Hamilton: youthful ambition and hard work. I have worked fifteen years now with Keystone’s “young, scrappy and hungry” 9th -12th graders, and they are budding leaders. They strive for their goals and approach their daily lives with careful intention.

What do the efforts of our students and Miranda’s homage to American history mean in the context of Keystone’s 70 Years? I asked this of the upper school study body on the first day of this school year. I believe it is legacy. It would be bold of me to try to claim I know what legacy means to each member of our Keystone community, past and current, but I think I have a few starting points.

It is clear to me that Keystone’s founding mission of offering an advanced, challenging education to motivated students is still the core of all we do. It is a legacy we all proudly protect and maintain. It has been at the heart of Keystone since 1948. I saw it again this summer in teachers’ enthusiasm, planning and professional development. One should ask Mrs. Preston about her constant work teaching other AP Calc teachers the ropes or Mr. Hirt about his travels to France to keep fresh with its culture. Commitment to our legacy of teaching excellence will be clearly seen as everyone gets to know our wonderful new history teacher, Dr. Anna Armentrout.

Keystone’s primary identity 70 years ago was as a place that honored students and the primacy of their learning. That legacy lives on. It prompts each of us to put in the extra work, whether students, faculty or staff. I had the distinct privilege this summer to work with new Head of School, Billy Handmaker, new CFO, Mike Flynn and new Communications Director, Edmund Tijerina. Each understands Keystone’s mission, and they ‘get’ our students. In faculty and administrative meetings, teachers and staff examined our daily actions and set future plans with a commitment to the best interest of our students and keeping the Keystone legacy safely advancing into our next 70 years. Our founders would be proud of the community they created to nurture and grow our students’ robust intellectual lives.

And about those students. I am constantly amazed at how they take advantage of the opportunities Keystone provides to grow and make their world a better place. They work hard, they achieve at a high level and they do these things while stewarding a supportive student climate. This student culture lifts each other up through the challenges our accelerated program can provide. Each act of kindness improves a classmates’ day, contributes to a legacy for future Keystone students and attracts the next set of students to take on the mantle of Cobra. Fourteen Upper School students are new to our Keystone community this year. The fact that we can draw so many kind, high-quality new students speaks to what our returning students have created alongside our staff’s care and our founders’ vision.

On the first day of school last week, I asked students to consider what their personal contribution to Keystone’s legacy would be. What positive impacts did they want to leave? How did they want to be remembered by their classmates and teachers? What clubs or traditions would our students want to lead and create? How would they contribute to the high expectations they hold for themselves and each other? How would their work in our labs, classrooms, stages and playing fields daily enrich the lives around them? Over this academic year, my blog will showcase the contributions of Keystone students, faculty and staff. I will be one among many, to borrow from Hamilton again, “who tells your story.” I hope you’ll enjoy reading them throughout the year and see how they contribute to our proud Keystone legacy.

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