The Power of Awe on the First Day of School

Montrose School opened the school year with its usual favorite traditions – a handshake line welcoming all new students and faculty to the community, an all school Mass, and the “reveal” of the Student Government’s theme for the year.
The campus, located in historic downtown Medfield, bustled with the energy of the largest enrollment in school history.

“What a day! This was my 24th ‘first day of school’ at Montrose, and the excitement never dims,” said Head of School Katie Elrod. 
 
As always, the root of this first-day excitement lies deeper than the splendid changes that come with a new year: The profound mission underlying a Montrose education – to educate young women to pursue the truth in all they do – is what makes this perennial vivacity so palpable.

Mrs. Elrod spoke to an all school assembly on the morning of September 6th and asked students to consider: What is your essential question? She explained that an essential question is one that is universal, that is debated and discussed in school and in the greater world. Essential questions - which never cease to provoke man’s awe about human existence – thread through the core texts of Montrose’s rich liberal arts curriculum. They draw students to greater engagement with the world around them, their own God-given purpose, and the meaning of human connection in community. 
 
The Student Government team finished the day, with girls leading the all school assembly as they do weekly throughout the year. The student leaders revealed their choice of this year’s theme: awe. The choice is apt, given that the power of awe is at the root of the search to discover the essential question – What is my purpose? Montrose’s LifeCompass Parent Educator Deborah Farmer Kris noted in a talk to parents last winter: “Awe is what we feel when we encounter something vast, wondrous or beyond our ordinary frame of reference. It evokes a sense of mystery and wonder. And, given its documented benefits, awe might be our most overlooked, undervalued emotion.” The experience of awe can remind us that every person’s divine dignity originates from the awesome creation of God, and inspire us to seek our own essential questions. 
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