Today Brookers are arriving on campus for orientation. Many new faces will grace our campus, beautiful faces from around the world, from across the country, from different backgrounds, families, and communities. New friendships will be forged in the refining fires of dormitory life. New ideas will spring from conversations with new teachers in new classrooms full of new furniture.
Newness is exhilarating. It is full of possibility, full of hope and cheer. Returning students have a chance to renew their commitment to their studies, to renew friendships and start new ones, to practice new habits of the heart and mind. A new year means a fresh start, a do-over, an opportunity to prove oneself.
As students, new and old, arrive on campus, teachers, administrators, coaches, advisors, and dorm parents will be encouraging them to put on the new self, as Paul writes about in Colossians 3. Paul’s words are exactly what this generation of students needs to hear from their mentors:
Therefore, since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:1-4).
Most of the students coming back to campus will have had busy summers. They will have attended camps, taken summer classes, and practiced sports and music. Some of them will have spent a lot of time mindlessly flicking through social media posts or binge-watching decidedly “earthly” shows on Netflix. Others will have lost all sense of time while immersed in online gaming. They will need a reorientation towards what they were created to be – pursuers of truth, goodness, and beauty. So, our teachers will not simply be trying to fill their heads with more knowledge so they can pass academic tests; they will be seeking to help them to pursue the things above, to put to death the habits of the heart and mind that hold them back from passing life’s greatest tests.
Put to death, therefore, the components of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. When you lived among them, you also used to walk in these ways. But now you must put aside all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices, and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free, but Christ is all and is in all (Col. 3:5-11).
We want our students to be able to see beyond these temptations to a brighter future, to develop the character needed to lead the world to a healthier and saner place. They will need to fight against the vices Paul lists, vices that have torn the world apart and continue to do so in the present. How many relationships and communities have been destroyed by lust, by greed, by putting lesser goods in God’s rightful place? In recent weeks, we have seen anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and racism on full display wreaking havoc and killing innocent people in Charlottesville. And while the vices that ruin souls are not new, the way they are spread and fed in the 21st century is unprecedented. In Paul’s day, those caught up in sexual immorality would have had more obstacles in the way of satisfying the cultivating their lust than our internet-connected teens have. Racists would not have been able to hide behind screens, trolling, harassing, and plotting in Paul’s day. Stony Brook students will be challenged to swim against the current of this toxic culture.
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive any complaint you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which is the bond of perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, for to this you were called as members of one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col. 3:12-17).
As we start a new year, we at The Stony Brook School are committed to helping students enter into the newness of life that God offers. We desire to help our students grow not only in knowledge and skill but in moral and intellectual virtue, so that they can lead their generation towards love and wisdom.
Top 10 New Things at SBS this Year
- New advising program: Each student will be known and loved intentionally by at least one adult mentor in the community
- New faculty: Steve Stortz, an experienced boarding school teacher, father of four, and voracious cross-disciplinary reader will be teaching Geometry and Linear Algebra. David Kacinski, a dynamic young math teacher with experience in both public and private schools, will teach Algebra II and Pre-Calculus.
- New office staff: Sarona Farrell, our new Assistant to the Academic Dean; Kara Emmet, our new Assistant to the Registrar and College Counselors; Britta Holvik, our new Registrar; Lydia O’Brien, our new Residential Life Assistant; Tory Abrahamsen, our new Director of Activities and Community Service; and Talisa Saxon, our new Assistant to the Head of School
- New classrooms in Memorial and new furniture in Gaebelein (see below!)
- Newmini-courses like The Civil Rights Movement, Furniture Design, Game Theory, Interactive Neuroscience, and Artificial Intelligence
- New AP courses like AP Computer Science, AP English Language and Composition, and AP Spanish Literature
- New weight room with amazing new machines and aPeloton bike!
- New Robotics Lab in the basement of Barnhouse
- New wider paths between the buildings
- New app for managing residential life:Boardingware