At the conclusion of the opening faculty and staff meetings in late August, Head of School Rich Schellhas announced the inaugural awarding of the Peter C. McVeigh 1760 Upper School Director of Community Service.
I'd like to conclude our time together this morning by remembering what matters most.
The late Peter McVeigh, Class of 1760, was the founder, heart and soul of community service at Germantown Academy. To be honest, it also felt like he was the heart and soul of Germantown Academy period.
For decades Peter taught so much more than history at GA. Peter taught love of self and love of others. He taught us how to engage with others whose beliefs oppose our own and whose experiences differ from our own, and how not just to build bridges to them but to love them, unconditionally, for their humanity.
Day after day Peter worked tirelessly to see those who are too often overlooked, not just in the wider world, but even in the hallways of GA. Invariably he spotted the students who needed to be seen and he raised them up through the sheer force of his bear-hugging kindness.
Peter's connections to GA students both during their years in Upper School and for so many years after graduation were unmatched. He forever set a bar so high that the rest of us remain in head-shaking wonder, asking ourselves how. How do you raise three magnificent kids, Ian, Meghan, and Brendan, remain a devoted spouse, son, and brother, teach like your hair is perpetually in a wildfire, establish deep, meaningful connections with incredible service organizations, and still manage to call almost everyone on the planet to wish them happy birthday?
While Peter inspired awe in so many ways, this morning we want to specifically raise up his commitment to serving others. In his role as Director of Upper School Community Service, Peter inspired thousands of students by example. He invited them to lead, to join him in his lifelong commitment to genuine empathy, and to discover the best part of themselves by choosing instead to focus on others. All this Peter did in an astonishing real way; he helped us discover our own kernel of nobility in an otherwise completely human form.
Last year, a dedicated group of parents and alums came together thanks to the leadership of Audrey Schnur to ensure that Peter's legacy at GA lives on in perpetuity. With an initial goal of raising $100,000 in just over a month to endow the Upper School Director of Community Service position and to fund an annual day of service, our committee found itself quickly overwhelmed in a good way by the level of participation across our community, and ultimately raised $180,000 in Peter's honor.
Today it is my distinct pleasure to recognize our inaugural Peter C. McVeigh 1760 Upper School Director of Community Service. In 2018, The Peter C. McVeigh 1760 Upper School Director of Community Service was established in Peter's honor to ensure that his work to inspire lives of service to others continues to grow and that his legacy is remembered by future generations. The McVeigh Director of Upper School Community Service upholds Germantown Academy's commitment to teach students the importance of community service, to create opportunities for them to know and serve others, and to work to extend Peter's legacy at our school. Congratulations and thank you to the inaugural Peter C. McVeigh 1760 Upper School Director of Community Service: Yvette Marquez-Pribitkin, Upper School Modern Language teacher.
"It was an honor to be named the first Peter C. McVeigh 1760 Upper School Director of Community Service," said Marquez-Pribitkin. "I look forward to continuing Peter's legacy. As we all know, nothing can be accomplished without an incredible team. I was fortunate to work with Marcia Wexler last year who helped show me the way, and this year I'll be working with co-director Carlos Chubb (Upper School Modern Language Teacher). He will bring a special energy to CSO that I'm sure Peter would have loved. The students, of course, are the ones that deserve all the credit. They should be, and are, the ones carrying on Peter's torch."
(Carlos Chubb and Yvette Marquez-Pribitkin)