Feb. 4, 2021 — The soul of NMH is embodied by students. This was the message from faculty member Taylor King, who addressed students on Feb. 3 in honor of Founder’s Day, the annual celebration of school founder D.L. Moody. Moody was born 184 years ago this week.
King, a dance teacher, dorm head, and co-advisor of the Circle of Sisters affinity group for girls of color, told students, “In a time when the country is drastically polarized, you set an example to hear one another’s perspective. You have empathy for others, which can be seen by your actions — something that many adults in this country lack. When it comes to addressing injustices in our nation or in the world, you are always a step ahead of us.”
On a typical Founder’s Day, students and faculty would file into Memorial Chapel to hear King’s words, along with remarks by students and Head of School Brian Hargrove and music performed by students. Like most NMH traditions this year, Founder’s Day went on, but with modifications. This time, the speeches and musical performances by the NMH Concert Band were pre-recorded — in Memorial Chapel but also in dorm rooms and outdoors — and the program was produced as a video that students watched together during their Student Life Seminars.
Delivering a Moment of Silence reflection from her dorm room, Layla Hay ’21 urged students to practice gratitude, even though it’s not easy. “This year has been a tough one,” she said. “I miss all the things we used to have. Live performances. NMH salad bar. Even Monday morning meetings.” So, Hay starts small with “a little reminder that I still have good things in my life. I’m grateful for the little moments. Quirky announcements. Demonstrations of school spirit.” These flashes of appreciation add up and keep her going, she said. “This is not how I envisioned my senior year. But at least I’m here. I get to be at school with people I care about. As I try to navigate this crazy world, I’m glad that I have my friends to get me through it.”
In a segment of the program produced by the Interfaith Council, students and adults on campus shared reflections about Moody, including words that came to mind as they thought about him. Community. Diversity. Advocacy. Equal opportunity.
Will Kang ’21 believes the legacy left by Moody, who founded the school in 1879, is evident even two centuries after his birth. Kang said, “We learn to care for each other and accept a more diverse and changing environment. We learn to be more thoughtful in the way that we think, in the way that we speak, and in the way that we talk to others.”
At the end of her speech, Taylor King said she believes that Moody would be proud of today’s NMH students. She said, “I believe that if he met our students, he would be overwhelmed to see his legacy in practice, maybe extending past his dreams.”