Lessons in Gratitude

Cissy Pope
On a chilly February evening, with the occasional warmer weather hinting at the arrival of spring, a fire ignited in one of the lower school buildings, shattering the reverie that most often accompanies the time of year. Then, and now, in reflecting on the days following the fire and leading up to the opening of school, we experienced a mix of emotions, none more so than gratitude. 
Given the timing of the fire, when school was closed and our school family was safe, we found ourselves grateful. We recognized profound gratitude for the firefighters who efficiently and effectively contained the situation … and our fears. We marveled at members of the broader school community who heard and arrived, standing shoulder to shoulder alongside us. We again discovered gratitude as the beauty and magic of the Hammond family displayed itself as they supported us in word and deed in the days and months to follow. The many kindnesses of neighboring schools left us at once humbled and grateful.
It seemed only fitting, then, that we extend this same gratitude to those who had been our stalwarts during a difficult time. Members of the Columbia and Fort Jackson Fire Departments, Mark Hood ’76 and Austin Hood ’08 of Hood Construction, and Mayor Daniel Rickenmann joined us for Fridays Together in the lower school. 
And on that second Friday of the school year, our younger students gathered once more in the same location they had gathered in February, only two days after the fire, where they shared, celebrated, and learned life lessons. This time, however, we shared our gratitude, we celebrated being back in renovated classrooms, and we learned life lessons … lessons in gratitude.