Huybrechts sets theme for year

Welcome back!  We missed you. 

We’ve been watching students trickle back to school for the last few weeks – field hockey players, football players, kids commandeering lockers in prized locations, a few recent alums who stopped by to say goodbye to their deans before heading off to college – and with each passing August day, we’ve become more excited: Our students are returning!   I think this is going to be a terrific school year.  There’s a buzz in the air about Friday night games on Ted Slavin field, and school spirit seems
especially high.

Last year, at the recommendation of our School’s Ethics and Community Committee, a group that was very interested in increasing school spirit, I began what I anticipate will be my regular practice – to suggest a character education theme for the school year.   Last year, our slogan was, Hard Right vs. Easy Wrong, a phrase that encapsulated the dilemma we all face from time to time – the difficulty of choosing right when it’s so much easier to choose wrong. 

This year’s theme was suggested by H-W Yearbook Adviser and teacher, Ms. Bladen.  It’s  “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”   We all encounter ethical dilemmas that fall into the “just because we can, doesn’t mean we should” category – things one can do but shouldn’t do.  An obvious example: how we treat each other.  Just because you can spread cruel gossip about your classmates – It’s not illegal– doesn’t mean you should.  Or how we treat the environment.  Recently, there’ve been numerous news stories about the environmental impact of the millions of plastic water bottles that are used once and then discarded.  Just because you can gulp bottled water and toss the bottle in the trash – or worse, on the ground – doesn’t mean you should. 

I love our school motto because it emphasizes student potential: They Can Because They Think They Can.  Harvard-Westlake is a “can do” place, a place where the development of the individual is encouraged, and ambition and achievement are rewarded.  Ambition and achievement are good, as long as the ambition is tempered – perhaps “augmented” is a better word – with generosity and humility, and the achievement comes honestly.  This year, I’d like you to think about combining our school motto with our character education theme.  You can because you think you can; but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

You have my most sincere wish for a wonderful school year.

— Dr. Jeanne Huybrechts