Like the blue of the sky, choice surrounds us. Or lives with us, if we are privileged to be able to choose, as does the beat to the heart. We live by the choices we make.
In 2006 I chose to come to Hotchkiss as the School’s 12th Head.
We are a New England boarding school, deeply rooted for over 100 years in a tradition of schooling that stands proudly amongst the finest in the world. We don’t ever forget that. We show it in our attitudes to academic learning, to the arts, and to athletics.
We feel it in our appreciation of the beauty and power of our land and landscapes here in rural Connecticut. Above all, we grow it in our attitudes to each other and in the ways in which we develop character and mature as individuals. This grand heritage is one reason why I, a world traveler, was so enthusiastic about planting myself here.
We are a community, a rare thing in a fractured world. We learn to live and work and play and have fun together, and we continue to strive to make our community ever more coherent, creative, and compassionate. Our community feeling comes through in many ways, even architecturally. Our Main Building still functions as a one-room schoolhouse.
For a school of under 600 students, we have an abundant, rich program. We are a small school with a large range. Personal attention is a hallmark of our relationships. At the same time, breadth is a hallmark of our curriculum. This is an unusual combination.
We encourage the taking of risks. Education is a dangerous business. That’s a strange thing to say, isn’t it? Not dangerous in that it threatens life -- oh, no! But dangerous because it challenges us, it makes us wish to take on new ventures and try unknown experiences. We never learned to walk without bumping a nose, or ride a bicycle without grazing a knee. Education like this enlivens us and provokes opportunity. The untraveled world beckons, gleaming. Here we don’t want the shock of the new to become the comfort of the known.
We are attentive to the great needs of our times. Environmental responsibility and global citizenship are clarion calls that we hear clearly. Prep for college is vital, but prep for the planet is a more compelling matter, a matter of survival. Our school with its wonderful resources is focused on sending out graduates who will grapple with such major issues. This is a duty. Education here is for life, a life of beneficial works and of serving others, and so it should be.
It is easy to say such things. It is more difficult to do them. Here, we try to do what we say, and most often we succeed.
It is my pleasure to invite you to get to know more about our wonderful school, Hotchkiss.
Malcolm H. McKenzie
Head of School