Honoring the Past with Gratitude; Moving Forward with Purpose

Gretchen Lee

Long before there was a Saddle River Day School, there was a tree standing at the entrance to what eventually became Saddle River Day School’s Main Hall. At various times in its long life, the iconic Main Hall Tree shaded classes as they studied outdoors, provided a scenic background for opening day and graduation day photos, and functioned as base for games of tag. It was a landmark for those visiting the school for the first time, a welcoming friend for our current faculty, families and students, and a beacon for alumni when they returned to campus.
 
Sadly, earlier this year, our beloved elm tree reached the end of its long life. After gathering the opinion of several arborists, the tree was deemed a safety hazard and had to be removed. 
 
Saying goodbye to an old friend isn’t easy. There is still a space where our tree stood and for those of us who had become accustomed to seeing it, its absence will be felt for a while longer. But although change is hard, there is a bright side (literally) to this story. Though we will miss the shade from our tree, we now have another patch of sunlight in which to grow our beautiful flower gardens. And although we don’t have our tree anymore, we preserved parts of it with plans to integrate it into our campus. A sign greeting SRDS families, prospective families and visitors will preserve our tree’s welcoming spirit.
 
The exterior view of our Main Hall isn’t the only thing undergoing change this year at SRDS. We are delighted to report that several new faculty and administration members have joined our school family, making the total number over 100 for the first time in school history. Just in time too, as our student enrollment reached record numbers for the 2022-2023 school year. Our Admissions department is already working overtime fielding inquiries from future SRDS families and we expect to have another record-breaking year. New spaces like the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) and engaging programs, classes and courses of study have been added across all three divisions supplementing an already robust list of academic options for our students.
 
Here at SRDS, it is our mandate to evaluate our programs, pedagogy and curriculum to ensure that we are proactive in responding to the evolving needs of our students and families. We are lucky that our school has been built on a strong foundation of academic excellence, intellectual inquiry, and lifelong curiosity. But as we saw with our tree, sometimes even our most revered and beloved institutions can be improved upon in order to better suit our current needs. One thing we do know is that as our school grows and changes, we will continue to honor our past with gratitude as we move forward into our future with purpose. This is the legacy of our beloved Main Hall tree.