A whimsical story my brother told recently may offer a clue why many of us love this remarkable place. He quipped that maybe I was destined to enter the priesthood because as a young child I loved to dress up in a satin bathrobe and make grand pronouncements over the rest of the family; he questioned my suitability for the role, however, by noting that I also loved to dance around like Steve Martin (before we knew who Steve Martin was) and stick green beans up my nose!
Without ascribing more weight to such silly idiosyncrasies than they merit, I do note that we rightly describe Campbell Hall as a leading edge, progressive school in traditional clothing. The school is progressive in its focus on the individual child and its passionate and pragmatic commitment to finding ways, any ways, to awaken each student’s joy in learning. There is always contemporary research – for example, on the nature of the brain and its functioning, on the apt role of technology in schools – to study and absorb. We remain passionately interested in incorporating leading edge technology into our teaching where appropriate. The way that something traditionally has been taught is not necessarily the way it should be taught. Examples of this progressive ethos at work at Campbell Hall include the incorporation of the Schools Attuned program and the supporting work of our learning specialists; our successful experimentation with single gender classes in the junior high; and the wonderfully spirited, varied, and technologically sophisticated expressions of the performing and visual arts programs at the school. I am personally very excited to participate in the many and varied special events this year, including the new CH Jam!, that promise an opportunity for wholesome (though sometimes noisy!) fun.
At the same time, Campbell Hall acknowledges that many of the approaches and values of true education are timeless and of ancient pedigree. Uniforms in the elementary school and chapel for all grades (with its ancient prayers and insistence on decorum and respect) are perhaps the most obvious outward symbols of the school’s more conservative nature. We have performed the Nutcracker ballet for decades, and will do so again this year. At its core, any strong liberal arts program is conservative, since the basic critical thinking skills it teaches are in many ways those taught by Plato and Aristotle 2500 years ago. The school’s core values are timeless, including its dedication to educating human beings who are decent, loving, and responsible above all.
Here at the feet of the Hollywood Hills, we do well to embrace the vibrantly creative spirit that fuels our souls as well as much of the local economy. In doing so, I believe we are being true to the spirit of this remarkable and unique school and the families that make this community home.