Touchstones and Flashpoints


Touchstone: noun
a fundamental or quintessential part or feature

Flashpoint: noun
a point at which someone or something
bursts suddenly into action or being

I like to think about how things begin, about how the clarity of a first day can set the direction and tone for how we continue and where we end up. Today, on the first day of school for students, we began in the gym as an entire student, faculty, and staff community. After welcoming everybody, I spoke briefly about two things: touchstones and flashpoints.

Since we are in a place where how we feel matters to our success, I thought it important to remind everyone of the touchstones that remind us of this. These touchstones are essential to our community and to our learning. For example, we find touchstones in one another’s individuality. We know that the “best way to find out who you are is to go to a place where you don’t have to be anyone else.” Being ourselves, being who we are, is a touchstone. Our relationships are touchstones. Frequently, I hear things like “there’s something about the relationships at Crossroads.“ Whether these relationships be among the students, among the adults, or between students and faculty and staff, our relationships are fundamental to our community. There are other quintessential parts of Crossroads, of course, but I focused on these two this morning.

I chose these two because as a larger St. Louis community, we are learning through the news, social media, and other sources about flashpoints in Ferguson. Whether the action be heroic or sinister, those two Ferguson blocks are a flashpoint for many in our larger community, and perhaps many in our school. My hope is that we can stay connected to our touchstones as a school community even as we might be trying to make sense of a flashpoint that we know and understand to varying degrees.

Remaining true to the touchstones that are Crossroads will serve in other ways as well. Who knows what we might learn, what service we might offer, what curiosity we might discover that will help us burst suddenly into being more ourselves, that will help us burst suddenly into action that will change our lives or the world.

I offer this with a great deal of joy and a great deal of confidence in our students, our faculty and staff, and our community.

With great expectations,