Dr. William Summerhill
Two little words have been deliberately included in our mission statement to describe what Ascension is and is not: faith affirming. We are a school that believes religious freedom is an essential pillar of the American republic, both the freedom to live according to our chosen faith traditions, and the freedom to be protected from coercion by others who would impose their beliefs on us. Informed citizens understand and respect this freedom as a hallmark of our national culture.
In my tenure as Head of School I have become very aware of the role that faith has played in the history and fortunes of this academy. Ascension came to life thanks to the inspiration of men and women committed to the mission of developing the minds, bodies and spirits of our young people. And twenty years later we remain true to this vision.
To be a faith affirming school means that we neither parochially support any one religion or viewpoint, nor foster antagonism toward any. Yet we recognize the importance of religion in our nation’s life, and therefore require students to learn about their own faith tradition (Catholic, protestant and global) while bringing them together for chapels where they meet as a equal members of a community of citizens who accept and respect each other’s beliefs and traditions.
In the weeks between our national day of thanksgiving and the religious holy day of Christmas, I think about how much faith touches each of our lives, and not just during the holidays. Look at these evidences of faith that surround us at every turn:
• The faith of the farmer who plants in the spring in hope of a fall harvest;
• The faith of couples who start families in spite of the uncertainties of what the future may bring;
• The faith of grandparents who support theirgrandchildren even though they worry about what may await them as they grow up;
• The faith of donors whose belief in the value of a greateducation inspires them to give to Ascension, openingdoors to a better future for our children.
Every day the faith of our board members, teachers, parents, alums and community friends is affirmed in the smiles and accomplishments of our students. And whenever we share our time and our financial gifts withthis school, our faith in this mission of love and hope is affirmed too. For those who have already supported our Annual Fund, thank you for believing in the people and mission that make our school so special. And for those planning to give before the Dec. 31 IRS deadline, thank you, in advance, for remembering us and affirming your faith through your investment in the promise and future of a child.