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Resetting the Steps of Our History

Posted By Karen Hallowell, Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Based on the headline, I bet you are expecting to read something about taking a revisionist approach to events in George School’s past, a metaphorical journey into times gone by, perhaps.
Wrong again.
In actuality, I’m talking about the real steps that lead down from South Porch on Main building to South Lawn. Since the Admission Office moved into the South Wing thirty years ago, these steps have borne the naïve, the nervous, and the apprehensive as prospective students and their families have made that final approach to their first tour of the school. Over many more years, generations of graduating students have posed impatiently on those steps before making the long walk down the gravel path to the commencement ceremony. It’s interesting that these steps, in their formal function, mark the beginning and end of a student’s George School experience. Beyond these benchmarks, however, the steps of South Porch have been the scene of countless informal, personal but perhaps no less memorable, events in our lives.
Over time, the steps have undergone very occasional minor repair but lately had begun to show more noticeable signs of potential structural problems. A major renovation was planned and began in late November. Beyond stabilizing the foundation, the project was painstakingly designed to preserve the stone and restore the steps to their original form. I’m sure that it would have been much more expedient and far less expensive to rip them out and pour new concrete steps … but that’s just not the way we try to do things around here.
Like so many things in our lives that work so well that they are hardly noticed, we have been able to see the steps of South Porch most clearly when they no longer were available for our use. It has been fascinating to see each phase of the project, especially when massive stone steps were carefully removed to reveal the stonework of the foundation of Main building itself. This place was built with hand-hewn steps over a solid stonework foundation. Somebody had the future in mind when they founded George School; it surely wasn’t built in a day, nor was it set on a pile of sand.
Seeing that foundation brought to my mind all those whose hopes and dreams became a reality with the construction of Main. I am filled with a sense of gratitude for their optimism and forethought and can see how that same vision and faith in the future has been made manifest in the new library building we dedicated this fall.
So, it ends up that there’s plenty to ponder here, especially if you were hoping for a metaphor or two.

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