A  coed Friends school, pre-K to 12, on 47 acres in East Falls, Philadelphia

Breadcrumbs

Honoring the Light Within

Are you able to let your life preach, and let your Light shine?Head of School Darryl J. Ford welcomed students, teachers and staff to the 2019-2020 academic year at an All-School Assembly that also featured the unveiling of the flag for the Class of 2020. Ford introduced the theme for the school year: Honoring the Light Within. His remarks follow:

Good Morning.

I welcome you, our Penn Charter community, to the 2019 – 2020 school year.  This is our 330th school year. You are part of a school that is older than the United States of America. And this year we welcome to that legacy 104 new families 145 new students. Welcome to Penn Charter.

We start this year with 976 students, our largest attendance ever. Our new families come from the Philadelphia region and also hail from Richmond and Alexandria, Virginia; Raleigh, North Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; New York City; Columbus, Ohio; and London, England. We also welcome 20 new teachers and staff to Penn Charter. 

This year’s theme is Honoring The Light Within.  As many of you know, Quakers believe that there is the Inner Light, That of God, the divine, something special, inside each and every one of us.

What does this mean? What does it mean to have the Inner Light inside of each of us? What does it mean to have the Inner Light inside of you? For our students, especially our youngest, we want you to understand that the Inner Light inside of you means you are special. You are important. You are equal to anyone and everyone no matter what they may say about you or how they treat you. For all of us, even when we find ourselves having the worst day possible or in the midst of darkness, possessing the Inner Light means we are worthy.

Honoring the Light Within, however, requires us to act. But what should we do? How do we Honor the Light Within others? When friends are faced with challenges, we often say, “I will hold you in the Light.” For our students, especially our older ones, you may think about what this means: For some, the action of holding someone in the Light may mean praying for them. For others, it can mean, “lifting them to light and goodness, so they can have hope and peace.” Doing what you can so a student or classmate can have hope and peace is one way to Honor the Light Within. Offering peace and hope is one way to act.

Another way to Honor the Light Within is to treat others well and to speak in ways that acknowledge That of God in yourself and peers. This is a fancy way of saying be kind in your actions and your words. Be gracious in your actions and your words. Doing so to your students or your friends is one way to Honor the Light Within. Extending kind actions and words is one way to act.

George Fox, the founder of Quakerism said, “So let your lives preach, let your light shine.”  This is another call to action. How you live your life can inspire others. How you share your Inner Light can inspire others. Inspiring others is one way to act.

You might ask, how can I, just one person, let my Inner Light shine? You might say, I am only in first grade, so how can I let my Inner Light shine? How can I make difference?

I recently read an allegory, a story by Leo Tolstoy. It is called, “A Candle.” It goes like this:

“One evening a man took a small candle from a box and began to climb a long winding stairway.

“Where are we going?” asked the candle. “We’re going up higher than the house to show the ships the way to the harbor.”

“But no ships in the harbor could ever see my light,” the candle said. “It is so very small.”

“If your light is small,” the man said, “just keep on burning bright and leave rest to me.”

When they reached the top of the long stairs, they came to a large lamp. Then he took the little candle and lit the lamp.

Soon the large polished mirrors behind the lamp sent beams of light out across the miles of sea.

The start of an avalanche is a little drop of snow and as it rolls it becomes mighty. When the sun shines what can a little candle do? But in the thick darkness of the night, even the little candle gets its importance as it expels the darkness. Each of us has our little role to play in this life here on earth. When we keep shining and do our duties diligently we become important to the world and find our purpose of life. Our role may be significant or insignificant but what is important is how ardent and sincere are we in pursuing it without discouragement.

A tiny candle or match can start a forest fire. The little flames of your good example can actually change the lives of others without you knowing it. Can I be the light to my life and the life of others?

How significant is my light? Do I value my own light?

What efforts do I take to pass on the light from my little candle to others?

“Without knowing what I am and why I am here, life is impossible.”

(Author: Leo Tolstoy, From TotalDreamer.com)

“But in the thick of darkness of night, even the little candle gets its importance as it expels the darkness.”

“Each of us has our little role to play….”

“The little flames of your good example can actually change the lives of others without you knowing it.”

All good lessons from “A Candle.”

I now ask:

As we enter this new school year, can you recognize the Inner Light within yourself?

As we begin this new school year, what can you do to Honor the Light Within others?

In the thick of darkness, can you be a Light to others?

Are you able to let your life preach, and let your Light shine?

It is my hope that you will remember our theme, Honoring the Light Within, and maybe the ideas from the story “A Candle,” and use them to frame your interactions with each other.

It is also my hope that we all will take care of each other and you will take care of yourselves now and throughout this 330th year of Penn Charter’s existence, Honoring the Light Within, all while learning and growing here at Old Penn Charter.

I wish you all the best year ever!

Speech by Senior Class President Patrick Cannon.

Quakers Dozen sings "Lift Every Voice and Sing"