Cheryl Dahler: 2015-2016 Faculty Reflections

June 9th, 2016

Nancy Hathaway writes that “Of all the legendary animals of art, folklore, and literature, the unicorn is the one with the greatest hold on our imaginations. Other fabulous beasts are clearly inventions, existing only in a mythical landscape of our own collective creation. But the unicorn strikes us as more than imaginary. It seems possible, even probable- a creature so likely that it ought to exist.”

I am here today to reassure you that unicorns do indeed exist. I’ve lived and worked among them for years, and I am confident that even when they remain unseen, they are still present among us, working their magic in our lives.

From time to time, an athlete at this school has voiced complaints about our mascot, but I believe that is because they have been misled by the popular image of unicorns, which revolves around glitter, ponies, and rainbows. Instead, let us focus on the strength and rarity of this legendary beast. These are the traits that I will always associate with Selwyn and its unicorns.

I believe the most important lesson taught at Selwyn is respect. Respect for knowledge and learning, certainly, but a respect that goes far deeper- it is a respect for and appreciation of the differences that make us unique individuals. The world at large can scarcely believe in such respect, just as only a wistful few still yearn to believe in unicorns.

It is this respect, more than anything, that our students carry with them as they leave this campus. I believe it is also this respect that draws alumni back. In this present world, where little respect for the individual is in evidence, it is reassuring to know that such a place as this exists.

It is this same respect that gives me hope for the future, for it is not in the charming buildings or the beautiful views that the true soul of Selwyn resides. So long as the people of Selwyn make mutual respect a guiding principle of the education Selwyn offers, the best of this school will continue to exist. As our students leave this campus and venture into the greater world, they carry this respect within them.

In the meantime, rest assured that there are unicorns among us, even when they may be unseen. As Josephine Bradley explains, “The unicorn… keeps watch down the corridors of time. The past and the future meet in the presence of the unicorn.”

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