Head of School Reflects on the Comfort and Hope Found in the Arch

April 09, 2020

Our School Leader reflects on the history of the Whitney Arch and what it continues to mean to all who walk under it onto our campus.

Greetings from Faribault,

Every morning as I walk from the St. Mary’s campus to my office in Shumway, I pass beneath the Whitney Arch. I remember the first time we came through the Arch, back in April of 2004: the campus opened up in front of us, the Shumway Clock Tower standing majestically center stage. It was beautiful and breath-taking. It still is beautiful and breath-taking.

One of my favorite topics at alumni gatherings is to ask about alums’ first time on campus. Inevitably, they talk about coming through the Arch for the first time. The sense of wonder and awe. The feeling of comfort that arriving back through the Arch provided them in subsequent years.

In 2014, we added the Human Arch ceremony to the beginning of our school year. All new employees, their families, and all new students to our community start outside the Arch and run through a “tunnel” of human arches comprised of our entire community, welcoming them into the Shattuck-St. Mary’s family. It is one of my favorite days each year, and why I love being a part of this community.

These mornings, the walks underneath the Arch are tinged with sadness at the eerie quietness of campus and the absence of students shuffling between buildings or gathering on the Parade Field. But even in these days, the Arch itself provides comfort and hope.

Inscribed on the left side of the Arch is the following: “Built into this arch are stones from Shattuck Hall 1869-1926 and Old Whipple Hall 1872-1926.” Those stones are integral in the structure of the Arch; without these repurposed stones—stones that had served their original intent and could have been discarded—we might still have an arch, but we wouldn’t have an Arch imbued with 150 years of history, 150 years of stories.

Much like the stones from Shattuck Hall and Old Whipple Hall, we are all integral to the history and stories of Shattuck-St. Mary’s School, and our perseverance is a testament to the ethos of a place we all love. A place we all call home.

We look forward to having you all home as soon as we can.