Sept. 11, 2012 Assembly Remarks (Delivered Monday, September 10):
The youngest of us in this audience have no memory of September 11, 2001, although I think images in the media are familiar to us all. Those of us who are a little older remember that day all too vividly, glued to the television, talking with friends and family, trying to retain a sense of stability, order, and security amid fear, sadness, terror and wild speculation. All of us of the right age remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news that a plane had struck the World Trade Center, at roughly 9:00 a.m., as the school day was getting under way here on campus. The details of the next several hours remain vivid as well, and I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing through that morning as the appalling story unfolded. In the early afternoon we gathered as a school community in this room, where we together began slowly to process what had happened.
The following day, September 12, we confirmed here at Nobles what the direct loss had been to this community. Three current and former Nobles parents lost their lives on the doomed planes that left Boston bound for Los Angeles on that beautiful and terrible morning:
Richard Ross, father of Franklin, Class of ’02
Cora Hidalgo Holland, mother of Nate ’01 and Jessica ’97
Sonia Puopolo, mother of Mark ’90
Later we learned, after she joined this faculty, that faculty member Meg Jacobs had lost her brother John Randall in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on that day.
Richard, Cora, Sonia and John were victims of the deepest sort of intolerance, of fanaticism, of hatred driven by irrational ideology. They were all loving people whose lives were dedicated to their families. All four were aware of and thankful for the blessings that this life had bestowed upon them, grateful for the love with which they were surrounded, and for the opportunity to love others. In their own different traditions, they took solace in their faith. They were also generous and giving, with commitments to service and helping others less fortunate. These four were from different ethnic backgrounds and religious traditions, yet they all shared a connection, through the tragedy of that day, with this community and with each other. They represent a microcosm of all that is best in this country, and in this extended school community. Their loss was a stunning waste.
We are left to derive meaning and purpose, not from death, but from the richness of their lives. It is our obligation to continue that dialogue and quest, to affirm life and direction from an act still so incomprehensible, for if we do not seek to understand, it will control and direct us against our will. From insanity and grief we must seize and restore rationality, morality and aspiration, and that will be the most profound measure of ultimate victory. With steady determination, we must affirm our values and principles as Americans and as human beings in the face of this most stark and egregiously violent challenge.
Please join me in observing a moment of silence in remembrance of and honor for all the victims of September 11, 2001.
In a new tradition, we will now indeed affirm life with a special recognition here in assembly. For the last several years in the opening meeting of faculty and staff we have honored a member of the staff with the Cora Holland Hidalgo Holland Award, and we have decided to make this recognition in this annual assembly as well.
Many of us in this room remember Cora Holland well. Mother of Jessica, of the Class of ’97, and Nate, of the Class of ’01, Cora was a dedicated supporter of the Nobles community. She boarded an airplane in Boston bound for Los Angeles to visit relatives on the morning of September 11, 2001. She was never able to rejoin her family after that tragic trip. Cora’s particular concern and attention were reserved for the school staff. A person with special warmth and openness, Cora went to great lengths to welcome and befriend all the employees of the school with whom she came in contact. Her family felt that this award would be an appropriate means whereby Cora could be memorialized in this community.
The Cora Hidalgo Holland Award expresses the deep gratitude of this community to a member of the school staff whose work has been excellent, whose dedication has been exceptional, and whose character has made this a better place in which to live and work for all of us.
I am very pleased to present the 2010 Cora Holland Award to … Tessy Smith. I would like Tessy, to her great embarrassment, to join me before you while I share some brief remarks.
Tessy came to Nobles in 2006, and she has been a godsend. Not only has she made the Nobles technological systems work with remarkable imagination and efficiency, she has accomplished this with the most winning and wonderful spirit and energy. While her primary role is to develop programs and systems that improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our systems and network, she takes the customer service ethic of our ISS department totally to heart and is always willing to help others with their more mundane problems and questions. Her list of accomplishments is long and amazing, touching just about everyone is this community. It includes student data systems; development support; interfaces between various school databases; calendar utility; introduction of new systems and programs for various departments; integration with first class email; most recently, a published idevice app for Nobles Athletics available at the Apple app store; and many other developments that I confess I only marginally understand but which those in the know tell me have been brilliantly effective. She does all this with humility, a smile, and a “can do” attitude. We are so fortunate to have her in this communiy, both because of her extraordinary talent and her magnificent qualities of character.
Today we express our community gratitude to Tessy Smith with the Cora Hidalgo Holland Award.