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Head of School Update: Friday, February 9, 2018

Dear JH Classical Academy Families,

Our annual school-wide Spelling Bee took place last Thursday.  Sixth grade student Paschall McDaniel, who earned second place last year, outlasted the runner-up, fourth grade student Avery Ward, to take the title. Paschall will head to the regional competition on March 24 in Rock Springs, and, if she is victorious, she will proceed to the Nationals. Spelling competitions are great challenges to our memory and to our knowledge of phonetics.  But they also point to the power of words.  Noah Webster was a bookish farmboy who became obsessed with uniting America through words. He spent twenty years writing two thousand pages to accomplish that, and the first American dictionary was published in 1828 when he was seventy years old.
Words are important.  Words have power to direct or destroy.  Words are one of the most powerful tools available to us as humans. We can use this force constructively by using words of encouragement or destructively by using words of despair. Considering the powerful force of the words we utter, we must discipline ourselves, especially as teachers, to speak in a way that conveys respect, gentleness, and humility. We all stumble at times and randomly dump the contents of our mind without regard to the significance of what we are saying.  Yet, we all know there are certain rules that should guide our communication with others.  And, we recognize that one of the clearest signs of a moral and mature life isright speech.
My namesake, 'Aunt Polly' Tunney, was one of those inspirational figures in my life mainly because of her words.  She was from a different era!  The beauty of her cursive writing, the eloquence of her words, and the elegance of her presence continually inspired me as a child. Her secret romance with the former heavyweight champion Gene Tunney was one of the most sensational love stories of the 1920’s. They eloped to Rome and their marriage made front-page news across the country with the words, “Tunney Stole the Ring.” For the 40 years she was part of my life, I was always eager to hear her voice or read her letters because her words were so carefully chosen and full of integrity. 'Uncle Gene' was a high school drop-out, but had an insatiable appetite for classical literature, especially the works of Shakespeare. He befriended writers such as George Bernard Shaw and Thorton Wilder; their home was full of books, poetry, and ideas.  'Aunt Polly' was born in 1907, died at 100 in 2008, and her words left a lasting impression on me.
Words were also used to great effect by Winston Churchill.  He credited his repetition of 9th Grade with building his skills in the English language: “As I remained in the 9th Grade three times as long as anyone else, I had three times as much of it.  Thus I got into my bones the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence, which is a noble thing.” “The Darkest Hour” was playing in town and featured so many memorable lines of Churchill’s wit and wisdom. One of the greatest lines of wisdom to his War Cabinet when he refused to enter talks with Hitler and Mussolini: “You cannot negotiate with a tiger when your head is in his mouth!”  One of his greatest lines of wit: "Would you stop interrupting me while I'm interrupting you!"  The movie showed the doubts and ambivalences that Churchill experienced behind the surface bravado for which he was known. Yet, his unique combination of literary skill, military experience, and political abilities made him the perfect man to stand in that darkest hour. Clarity of language and thought marked his speeches and his word were powerful to direct and destroy at an important time in history. 
May we speak this week with mindfulness!  May we use our words to share truth with love, to solidify peace with respect, and to bring encouragement to all! 
Mrs. Polly J. Friess
Head of School

Mountain Range


Jackson Hole Classical Academy
P.O. Box 7466
Jackson, WY 83002
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Polly Friess
(307) 690-8396
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(307) 201-5040
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