As the week went on, and orientation came to a close with freshmen and seniors in the building on Wednesday, some of the messaging varied by class. But a good portion of it did not. Many things apply to everyone, no matter your year.
The Xaverian value of simplicity is being highlighted this year at Xavier. “Simplicity frees the heart, the mind, and the soul for the work of evangelization and education,” is part of how the Xaverian Brothers describe this value.
“When you come to Xavier each day, focus on evangelization and education,” Headmaster Dave Eustis said near the close of Tuesday’s orientation for the junior class. “That’s what we’re here for. Try to leave the outside stuff in the parking lot or on the bus, and when you come here focus on God, focus on schoolwork, focus on after-school activities. Be the best man you can be.”
And it does not have to be complicated.
“It’s the small things we do every day that impact our lives and those around us, and our school,” Principal Brendan Donohue told the juniors. “Simple things matter … the choices you make today, the simple things you choose to do and do well will positively impact you, your classmates, and the school. If you choose to make poor decisions, it’s going to go the other way. There’s no middle ground at this stage of your life. So think about simplicity, things you do day in and day out that simply makes Xavier a better place.”
He also challenges each class to take a step back and figure out the best way to take a step forward. That, of course, starts your freshman year.
“Set aside time to prayerfully reflect on where you have come from, where you are today, and where you want to be,” is the Donahue challenge. “If you don’t like the picture that forms in your mind, then you need to make changes. If you like where you are, push yourself harder.”
Xavier is intent on making the 2021-2022 school year, despite the challenges of COVID once again, a return to more of a sense of normalcy. That means athletic events and clubs as well as other student activities. That means fans in the stands.
“Building the brotherhood, if you will,” is how Eustis phrased it. “Supporting each other.”
When Academic Dean Kyle St. George talked with the seniors about simplicity, he said that value was chosen in part because of an acknowledgment that things have “been overly complicated the past few years. Our world has been turned upside down. We want to return to our roots and we want the Xaverian experience to be as close to normal as possible.”
He then spoke about the Xaverian definition of simplicity that involves “the common, ordinary, unspectacular flow of everyday life. … the word unspectacular stands out because you think to yourself why do we want to pursue being unspectacular. It’s not what it is saying. What it is saying is live in the moment. Every single day is your day. We have a tendency as human beings to think about the future and think too much about the past. The Xaverian Brothers … there’s a lot of wisdom in this idea of living in the moment now, you can find God in the moment now, if you don’t allow yourself to be overstressed about the future and the past.”
When I think about that in the academic context, it’s stop worrying about the test, stop worrying about the grade, stop worrying about the transcript, stop worrying about your GPA . Cease all that. Stop. Focus on the day at hand, learn the content for today, do the work for today … what can I do today to be better, what can I do today to learn. If you focus on the now, doing the best you can in the given moment, the rest will take care of itself. The grades … the GPA.”
As the orientation for freshmen was concluded Wednesday they were given Bibles and a card with the Xavier school prayer. They are here … now … in the present. The future will come.