Head of School’s Notebook: Hometowns

October 9, 2021

I wandered over to the Tennis Center on Thursday afternoon to watch our girl’s varsity take on the only team in the league who has beaten us this year. That loss came right after the Outings Week break and our athletes were feeling the effects of their hiatus from sport. But our tennis team has been on a tear ever since, and they hoped the momentum would carry through on Thursday.

It did. In fact, the match wasn’t all that close, so dominant was our play. We were led by a host of outstanding players including Aminah Hill, a four-year starter and captain who hails from Carpinteria. Aminah is not the first Carpinterian to lead our tennis program. The Ha brothers led our boys teams throughout their tenure at Cate, which ended just two years ago.

In fact, Carpinterians were everywhere in Cate Blue this week. Several of them suited up for our Football team’s win over Santa Clara, two of them senior captains. On Senior Night, where our girls’ volleyball team closed out a league championship in convincing fashion, Olivia Dorion, a Carpinterian born and raised on Cate Mesa was the first to be introduced. In water polo, too, it was a Carpinterian in the Ram goal, stopping shot after shot.

Our community at Cate hails from all over the globe. We pride ourselves on the diverse villages of the world who connect to each other through Cate. We value deeply what each young person brings to this Mesa from their corners of the planet. And we are mindful of the contributions made by students who come to us from Carpinteria, our collective hometown. Not simply athletes like those I have noted here but remarkable intellectuals, exceptional musicians, actors, performers, and life-changing leaders and citizens.

Often when I speak with prospective families about Cate I mention the manner in which school culture is informed by this little town we live in; a town known for its humility and unassuming character, its agricultural heritage; its work ethic; its natural wonders; and its delicious avocados.  Where else can one expect a fresh batch of guacamole at every meal?!  

That flavorful fruit surely gains some of its special character from the fertile Carpinteria earth in which it is grown.  To some degree, we are all who we are because of where we come from.  Our hometowns are our first teachers outside of our parents, the places where we learn what to value, what virtues are paramount, how to treat each other, how to talk to adults, even what teams to root for. We can’t know with any surety where we will go in life, but we understand always where we come from. This campus above the sea, for most of us, will always be one of those formative places, even for the parents of our students, the most recent generation of whom will be here in two short weeks for our Fall Family Weekend.

As William Shepard Biddle ’18 explained over a century ago, our “roots go deeper than a few feet into the Mesa soil.”  They grow still, stronger and deeper, connecting this community of Cate perpetually to our Carpinteria home.