Dear Campbell Hall Families,
During this holiday season, I am reminded how grateful I am for this community and the clear sense of purpose and joy that may unite us.
I acknowledged in the November issue of CLIPS that we find ourselves in challenging times economically, and the best minds in the State and country continue to try to sort things out, with mixed immediate effect. I am sensitive to the trials that some in our community, and very many outside of it, are facing every day. At the same time, from my happy vantage point I bear witness to a remarkable sense of generosity and abundance in our student and parent bodies. Elementary students and their parents have supported the Outreach Gift Fair with their usual commitment and imagination, and have added energetic food drives for the hungry and clothing drives for the victims of the fires. Practically every week I hear of new causes and philanthropic projects among our secondary students; providing appropriate guidance and opportunity for so many student entrepreneurs is challenging, but what a great problem to have! Annual Giving remains strong because of the commitment of so many of you to keep philanthropic disciplines in the face of a broader, fear-based contraction in the economy. Alumni involvement in the life of the school is as high as it has ever been.
Numbers of applications to CH, and levels of enthusiasm among applicant families, point to another year of challenging admissions selections – and without being insensitive to those applicants, I note that from the perspective of the school’s long-term stability, this is another good problem to have. Fall sports programs were hugely successful (girls’ varsity volleyball and tennis are still in playoffs as I write), the fall production broke yet further artistic ground for us, and the Nutcracker juggernaut looks to be moving towards another exuberant production. Applicants these days have heard of, and are drawn to, any number of successful programs at the school, as well as a general sense that our academic rigor takes place within a context of supportive relationships.
On the financial front, the growth of our endowment in recent years, even though diminished over the past twelve months, has still created enough retained earnings to provide significant ongoing budgetary support. We are monitoring our budget for this current fiscal year and are planning for next year to make necessary adjustments. Thanks to prudent, skillful and conservative management of our resources (thanks in part to exemplary volunteers on our Board and Finance Committees), the school has produced balanced budgets for many decades now. Overall, we have been buoyed by the gains we have made in every domain over the last decade in admissions activity, unrestricted annual giving, endowment funds, capital contributions, increased financial aid, additions to the physical plant, and most importantly, increased leadership among our faculty, students, and parents.
By way of some historical perspective, you might be interested to know that over the last forty years (1967-2007), the United States has experienced six recessionary periods lasting six months or longer, during which enrollments and philanthropic support for independent schools have remained quite stable. Strong schools emerge from turbulent times in an even stronger position because they use challenges to focus laser-like on mission and core values. Our mission – to nurture academic excellence and decent, loving, and responsible human beings – is alive and very well, and I do not for a moment take that for granted.
So as we pause on the eve of the holiday season, let us together acknowledge that this year, the school’s 65th, is off to an excellent start. I can tell you from someone who lives on this campus every day that the students are not in the midst of a great depression, not even a recession! The market may be bearish, but Campbell Hall remains bullish on its mission. For that, for good health, for family and friends, and above all for happy children, I give great thanks.