Fall 2020 Opening of School Information for Phillips Academy Families

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Anthony Morales head shot
August 11, 2020

The path forward

Our world has changed, but compassion, support, and kindness will strengthen us as we step into an uncharted future.
by Anthony Morales ’98

180 Main Street is a place I will remember without the idea of social distancing. What about those packed regional dances on Saturday nights at Borden Gym, the cereal and bagel buffets at Commons, the cool outs in Riley Room, heated Af-Lat-Am meetings at Cooley, any cluster intramural classic, sanctuary sessions, All-School Meetings in chapel, laps around Siberia, the catch in ’96, U.S. history class in Sam Phil, “Can U Get Down?” radio show on WPAA, seminars of your life’s odyssey in Bulfinch? All precious forever firsts where we needed to be together in the black-and-white yearbook photos of our faded memories. What of the victory we have all felt coming back for reunions, driving up the Hill, looking at the Bell Tower, and replaying highlights for all the in-betweens—college, marriages, births, deaths, our somewhat adult lives—wow, how did we get this old? A divine hand, gently nudging us in the right direction. Give thanks.

I wish for future generations to know some of the bliss we cultivated on campus, with all of their experiences undiminished by the new normal we find ourselves in this year.

How many of us were ever homesick during our years at Andover and returned to our families with joy every summer and break? Each day in the shutdown has been that bittersweet nostalgia, knowing that what once was, will no longer be. I find myself often daydreaming of Clason Point Gardens—the Bronx’s first public housing project—the hood that raised me before Andover. This is the epicenter of one of the country’s COVID-19 hot spots. Will I ever be able to go back to where I was born with the same ease, to visit my family and friends, to write Story Ave. poems at the chessboard benches while watching the sunset and the moonrise over Soundview? What is the emotional cost of this distance?

180 Main Street is a place I will remember without the idea of social distancing… I wish for future generations to know some of the bliss we cultivated on campus, with all of their experiences undiminished by the new normal we find ourselves in this year. (photo: Derek Jacoby)

Bless to all the families who have lost something that feels like everything: a job, a graduation, a prom, a last day of school, a state final, a championship, a new friendship, another heartbreak, a colleague, a loved one. What is the best way to grieve something, somewhere, someone without properly saying goodbye? How do you survive in these times, where your freedoms are under attack, as the ground shifts below feet?

Gratitude, humility, love, and mindfulness will save us all. Be gentle with yourself, mi gente. The previous standards don’t work in this new world.

Some will profit from the misery instead of creating opportunity for increased humanity. I urge renewed eyes, seeing the God particle in all parts of our shared existence. I am thankful for my family: a beautiful wife, a curious 9-year-old son, and an energetic 5-year-old daughter who constantly remind me of my purpose.

The warblers sing louder now. The oak trees are greener as midnight seems darker. The silence hangs heavier. So does the emptiness of every avenue once bustling with the daily movement of people back and forth. The flowers are blossoming on schedule, according to Mother Earth.

What will we create during this time? How will we remember ourselves once we survive the chaos?

I want to picture my son, riding his bike for the first time with no training wheels. He kept pedaling steady, found his balance, and now is a natural for the rest of his life. May we all relearn to walk again, to breathe easy on safe ground with a fresh look at where we are headed, with no more fear, only faith in the next trip.

Anthony Morales is a Bronx-born Nuyorican poet, educator, and father who currently resides in Maryland. His work has appeared in Poetry magazine, Aster(ix) Journal, Hostos Review, Great Weather for Media, HBO’s Def Poetry, MANTECA! An Anthology of Afro Latin@Poets, and The BreakBeat Poets Vol 4: LatiNext. His published collections include Chuckle Buckle (2020) and Vacio (2019).

Categories: Alumni, Magazine

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