Head of School Letter to our Alumni
Dear Breck Alumni,
It is humbling to write to you during what can be described as parallel pandemics. On March 13, we closed our campus and moved swiftly to recreate the Breck experience online due to COVID-19. Many in our community continue to face the illness or passing of loved ones, or have been working tirelessly on the front lines. Then, tragically on May 25, at the hands of four police officers, George Floyd was murdered here in Minneapolis, bringing to the forefront, yet again, the horrors of institutional racism.
Throughout distance learning, and especially since May 25, we’ve connected with many of you. Thank you. We need all our voices now more than ever and I speak on behalf of the Board of Trustees, school leadership, and all Breck faculty and staff when I say, you make us proud. I believe your time at Breck prepared you for this moment in history. As schools face the daunting task of fulfilling our roles in society, we must reaffirm our commitment to equity and justice and your voices affirm that charge.
We specifically want to extend our support to our Black, Brown, and Indigenous alumni. Both COVID-19 and the horrors of racism disproportionately impact you, your wellbeing, and your livelihood. If we can be of any support to you, whether it be hosting a reflective session on all you’ve experienced, working with a Chaplain or former teacher, or hosting a forum on justice and equity work, please know we are here for you.
The purpose of this newsletter is to share with our alumni the most important events that are occurring in our school. For that reason, we would be remiss if we did not share some of our internal response to the murder of George Floyd and offer a look ahead to the community partnerships Breck is focusing on this summer to help rebuild Minneapolis. We share this with you now with the knowledge that you hoped to hear from us sooner. Please know that for the final days of the school year, our focus was on the support and care of our current students, faculty, and staff. During that time, we drew on the strength of our relationships to engage in deep conversations. We listened with love as many shared their feelings and experiences around the murder of George Floyd, the right and role of protest, and the long and painful history of oppression all while still in a distance learning model. And we know that all that we’ve done is not enough.
At our Commencement ceremony I stated, “As an Episcopal School, we are called to strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being. That is not a passive call. We must use everything we have — our values, faith, ethics, and moral codes to assess and change structures and we must be prepared to acknowledge our own responsibility. We must look inward. We must hold up a mirror and confront our own biases — we all have them. We all contribute to our societal problems and we are all responsible for societal solutions. I am no exception. Breck is no exception.”
We cannot do this work without you. We cannot grow and change without your insight, your leadership, and your voice. And so I am asking for your help in the form of presence and continued conversation. As the summer continues, I hope you’ll join me to engage as Paul Slack, faculty speaker, so beautifully stated, “As the military comes to quell the rebellion currently present on the streets of so many American cities, we cannot let them stop the rebellion in our hearts.” I am proud to see our community work together to break down systems of injustice and institutional racism and am grateful for your partnership in this work.
It is an honor to serve as Breck’s Head of School and in this moment in particular, I do so recognizing the full weight and responsibility of our history, mission, and future.
Natalia Rico Hernández, Ed.D.
Head of School
Breck Upper School students Joseph Purvis ‘21, Ayres Warren ‘22 and Maddie McDermott ‘22 share their experience interviewing Leslie Redmond, a local community organizer and former President of the Minneapolis NAACP. They also share their excitement for the MLK Symposium and Amplify Our Love with Pie events happening at Breck this upcoming week. Ms. Redmond will be the Upper School keynote speaker for the our 20th annual MLK Symposium.
On Sunday, January 17th, Breck will co-host Sweet Potato Comfort Pie’s seventh annual MLK Holiday event: Amplify Our Love with Pie, to honor the 92nd birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breck student, Kai Miller ‘22, has been working behind the scenes to get ready for the event. The communications team at Breck did a brief interview with Kai to ask about her experience working on the event.
Natalia Rico Hernández, Ed.D., Head of School, updates the Breck community on the School's response to Wednesday's events.