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A Reflection on the Capitol Riot

January 11, 2021

Dear AFS Community,

I am sure many are joined in outrage and a myriad of emotions following this past week’s profound betrayal of the foundations of our democracy and of the mutual commitment we should have as American citizens to the rule of law and to each other. The extraordinary witness to racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy among the rioters and in their treatment as the afternoon and evening of January 6 unfolded is all the more searing. The power of fundamental untruths and self-interest to fuel such an attack and desecration of the Capitol is profoundly disturbing. I am heartbroken for the damage done to the soul and psyche of our nation over the past several weeks.

There is hope in the clarity of the moment for seeing its danger, for the need for unequivocal condemnation, for its lifting of the veil on the opportunism and illegitimacy that has allowed such wrong-doing to take root in ultimate opposition to our most important collective ideals, aspirations and values. However incomplete and unfilled they have always been, they yet continue to inspire our commitment, hard work and dedication and they are embedded in our purposes as a Friends school. We are engaged in sacred work, work of the spirit that is meant to enliven goodness, progress, compassion, justice and peacemaking. We have a wheel to which to put our shoulders, we have each other for encouragement and reinforcement, we have the spirit for strength and direction.

Following what I hope was a Winter Break that brought renewal and rest to all, I am pleased to welcome us back to campus and to our virtual classrooms this morning. Having re-examined our protocols for the indoor months, confirmed with data the ongoing safety of schools overall in the past six weeks and having tested the community to ensure a baseline of health on our return to campus, we are happy to come back together for the joyful, very meaningful day-to-day experience of school at AFS. As is age-appropriate and needed, we will create space for reflection and discussion as our political crisis continues to unfold. An AFS education is meant to help children and young adults make sense of their world and their place in it.

I appreciate this community with a full and grateful heart. We have done so well together in navigating a tremendously challenging year. I received many positive messages from families over the break sharing the profound difference this community makes in the lives of their children. With hope on the horizon, I look forward to all that we will accomplish together in this New Year.

All the best,

Rich Nourie
Head of School, Abington Friends School

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