Head of School’s Notebook

June 19, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Juneteenth

Dear Friends, The sounds of the Mesa are a bit different as I write today. The cacophony of machinery and hammering associated with the renovation of Raymond Commons – which will ultimately be our Inquiry Center – is most conspicuous. Preparations for the Cate Summer Institutes are also underway, as we anticipate the arrival of …


May 20, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: The Human Sea

Many years ago, I wrote in this Notebook about a school shooting that didn’t make the front page of the newspaper. I couldn’t understand at the time why such a tragedy could be upstaged by anything else. Maybe the publishers, I mused, or their readers, were no longer shocked by such violence. Or not shocked …


April 29, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Marking Time

It is that time of the year. Spring Family Weekend has passed and the dulcet tones of the musical, Mamma Mia, are a lingering memory. Seniors are counting the days to commencement. Underclassmen are imagining the summer that lies just over a month – and an exam period – away. And faculty are trying to …


April 14, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Gratitude

When Tyler ’22 and Talia Tom ’23 stepped to the microphone last week as co-masters of ceremony for the International Convocation, there was a buzz of energy and anticipation among the audience. Our students have a great many distinctive and inspiring attributes, among which is a profound and enthusiastic appreciation for the countries, communities, and …


March 30, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Friends

I attended a memorial service this past weekend for Tom Jones, the parent of two Cate students, one a member of the Class of ’13 and the other a current sophomore. Tom and I shared a college, but that wasn’t the reason he became my friend. It was Tom’s captivating, adventurous, unflappable, occasionally irreverent and …


March 4, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Joy

In Monday’s Convocation, Cate was visited by a hypnotist. We have had so many marvelous and compelling speakers this year, many of whom our kids are still buzzing about – Athena Jones ’90, Sonia Nazario, Walter Riley and Candida Pugh, Von Miller – but even relative to such luminaries, the hypnotist generates a palpable buzz …


February 18, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Benny Kumiyama Sanchez

On Thursday afternoon, I stood before the Vietnam War Memorial and found myself drawn to a name. The monument is full of names. Just over 58,000 of them, a docent said. But my gaze was taken by one in particular: Benny Kumiyama Sanchez. I was in Washington D.C. with a host of Cate students attending …


February 4, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Senior Small Things

At a boys basketball game last night, a cheer started late in the first half. “We want John! We want John!” Cate was winning by a large margin at the time, but John had not yet been on the floor. A lover of sport and a senior, John Endres is the guy we all want …


January 21, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Black Joy

We began our celebration of Martin Luther King Day on Monday with drums. There is something elemental about the sounds and rhythms of percussion. We respond naturally, almost instinctively, even at 9:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. The drummers themselves, led by our own Mamadou Pouye, hailed from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Guinea, …


December 9, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: Home for Thanksgiving

There is a great line credited to Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit made famous by J.R.R. Tolkein.  “It’s a dangerous business going out of your door,” he said,” … there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” I thought of that line just a few weeks ago when I stepped out the door …


November 12, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: Seniors

“Which of our actions have the most meaning?” That’s the question Paige Rawiszer ’22 asked us all several weeks ago, remembering a chance encounter in the summer of 2018 with Brenda Martinez Ruiz ’21, which ultimately led to Paige coming to Cate. Could Brenda have known in that brief conversation that she was changing the …


October 29, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: The Return of the Familiar

Family Weekend on the Mesa was always something we could rely on. Everything was better, the kids would say, even the food. And then, all of the sudden, there were no Family Weekends.  Spring of 2020 was cancelled due to COVID-19 … then Fall of 2020 and Spring of 2021. There were a lot of …


October 9, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: Hometowns

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 …


September 24, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: A Visit from a Peacock

On Saturday afternoon, just about the time the Football Team was closing out our victory over Orcutt Academy, a peacock wandered onto campus. We hear them a lot in Lillingston Canyon, where there is a thriving flock of peacocks, the descendants no doubt of birds that escaped from a rancher’s enclosure many decades ago and …


June 11, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: Lessons at the End

In the final week of the school year, just a few days before commencement, Fritze Mayer ’21, one of the leaders of our Servons Speaker Series, offered some last bits of wisdom from the senior class. 12 places she thanked, one for each trimester of her four years at Cate: Harkness tables, Parsonage patios, fields …


May 21, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: Inquiry

Our senior inquiry presentations have begun. The first two were on Wednesday night. Ned Sigler ’21 talked about the manner in which we might one day enable human beings to travel to Mars, and why we must. He even quoted Elon Musk, who famously said, “I’d like to die on Mars. Just not on impact.” …


March 20, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: Bursting the Bubble

  Last week I went through all of the communications we sent to families and alumni during the Spring of 2020.  What amazed me most, now with the benefit of hindsight, is how naïve we were. How naïve I was. I wrote to our senior class shortly after we made the decision to suspend in-person …


March 12, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: Falling Behind

  I was on a Zoom call this morning with someone who accredits schools for a living. She was late for the call, and when I came out of her virtual waiting room she said, “I’m really sorry. It’s been a hell of a week and I have fallen behind.” She meant that she was …


February 19, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: Humor and Hijinks

  I have a picture on the wall of my office of the Cate School student body and faculty (then called Santa Barbara School) taken sometime in the late 1940s. Mr. Cate sits looking regal and in charge in the middle of the frame, flanked by his wife, Kate Cate, and the faculty. The underclassmen …


February 5, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: Sustainability

  “I’m not sure how much more of this I can take …” Those words came from my youngest son a few days ago, as he struggled through a particularly uninspiring virtual class this winter. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. He knows it. I know it. And we both know there …