COMMUNITY LETTER 6/8/20

Dear BMA Students, Families, and Alumni,

We have watched with a mix of sadness and anger the past two weeks as our country has tried to grapple with the shocking murder of George Floyd at the hands of men who were sworn to protect him. We have been dismayed by the tepid and often divisive response by some public officials and inspired by the thousands of citizens who have collectively and peacefully persisted to protest demanding change. As an institution dedicated to providing a safe climate so that our students may express their opinions and encourage them to learn the values of civil discourse and active citizenship, we have been heartbroken to see the rights of Americans trampled as they have attempted to peacefully assemble and demand change. It is clear that we are at a turning point; systemic racial injustice and police brutality will no longer be tolerated by the citizens of the United States. We are watching, we are listening, and we are learning.

As a school, we must understand the role that we play and our responsibilities to our community and to our students. It is clear to us that performative outrage on social media is simply not enough. We must aspire to a higher standard and commit ourselves to a long-term investment in our curriculum and programming that will ensure that we are part of the solution to these insidious and long-standing problems.

Our mission at Burke Mountain Academy is to educate and to stimulate character development in our students. It is our responsibility to ensure that our students are prepared to meet the challenges that they will face in their lives beyond Burke and that they leave our school ready to make a positive impact in their communities. While we deeply believe that our school and our students embody the character traits of integrity, personal responsibility, grit, critical thinking, and empathy, we must acknowledge that we can do more to educate ourselves in the areas of systemic racism and social injustice in our country. To be a part of the solution, we must commit ourselves to a higher degree of engagement with these issues while acknowledging that the sport of ski racing is not representative of the diverse racial, social, and economic realities of the world around us.

We have challenged ourselves to weave the theme of social and racial injustice throughout our curriculum and community programming next year. We will be exploring a myriad of ways to help our students understand the context of the current situation in our country and will strive to bring more diversity of perspectives into the ongoing conversation in our school. Ultimately, we will endeavor to develop lasting programming to ensure that our students are prepared to be a part of the social change that our country badly needs. We can be a part of the solution, and the key is turning our outrage into action for positive outcomes. Our role is education, and that must be our focus.

We have work to do, but we are eager to be a part of the solution.

Respectfully,

Willy Booker ’96, Head of School and the BMA Staff