The Grauer School Campus Completion Ribbon Cutting
Speech Delivered April 9, 2019
Dr. Stuart Grauer, Head of School
Students, always first, esteemed faculty and staff members of The Grauer School, and everyone:
I am really happy and honored to have all your attention. It is Pirate Day today on campus, a brand I think The Grauer School wears pretty well. Thank you to Isaac Langen, Tom Hopper, and the student musicians for the captivating harmony. Esteemed alumni, parents and family members; guests, friends and neighbors; esteemed and hard working Chairman of the Board of Trustees Craig Gertz; special guest first Board chair Robert Buie; esteemed emeritus faculty members Dr. Edith Eger and Don Kish—welcome!
In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, Metallica and Nirvana were rattling our kids’ brains, and just down the street from here, a local farmer called Ray Chavez let me borrow a storefront to give teens someplace where they could go and get listened to. I never had much of a plan other than a listening room, for kids, for the community, for my sense of what teens needed and weren’t getting.
Encinitas has been an unbelievably inspiring place to host all this over these past 28 years. Our community means the world to us, so I want to say thank you to our Encinitas Chamber of Commerce, and our city and county officials. Thank you, San Diego County Supervisor and longtime Grauer supporter Kristin Gaspar; Encinitas City Councilmember Joe Mocsa and the whole council; the office of Congressman Mike Levin; our treasured next-door neighbors from Lux Arts Institute - Lexi Meyerowitz, and the San Dieguito Tennis Club - Juan Garcia; and so many other great people who share this amazing community.
I will provide a few commemorative words for this, our 4th ribbon cutting. It’s taken a while to get here, and I now have literally around one million files in my computer on The Grauer School, a name given to us by early Grauer advisory and parent boards. That’s matched by nearly one million hours of lessons provided to Grauer students by our incredibly talented teachers filling these classrooms with passion and creativity.
One of my favorites among the million computer files is a book by former Board Member and dear departed friend Dr. Tony Smith, called Leadership and Luck. In that book, I am a featured chapter. I have had some runs of luck that I would not even believe if they hadn’t happened to me, but the luckiest thing of all is the people around me who have supported this vision, starting with Carol LeBeau who told San Diego: "Everyone is complaining about education, and a man in Encinitas is doing something about it.”
We've received so much support from the faculty; the Encinitas community; so many friends here and my loving selfless wife, Sally; board members and underwriters, all of whom stand in incredible support of this shared vision; our first major donor, the late Joan Knute; amazing board members including Mike Branon, Tony Carr, Robert Gottleib, and Jamie Carr; and so many others.
Our first board chair was Bob Buie. Bob listened like a great teacher, as I was consumed and overwhelmed with the mandate to start our permanent school construction. I feel honored every single time I invite people to meet in the Buie board room. Those of you now on our board can only imagine how long the emails were that Bob had to read through from me. He got me calmed down, set up our committee, and we got started with what we’re now finishing. Some of the key architectural ideas you see on our campus are Bob Buie’s. Today, we mark the completion of our archetypically-inspired quad.
In 2008, 11 years ago, I broke out plans to our board at the time for two big items: a $4,000,000 campus completion plan called "Phase 3", and a multi-million dollar financial aid endowment fund. Since that time, just in my school building development files alone, I have added 27,000 files, including a planning commission speech comparing us to the Peking gardens, parcel maps, proclamations, wildlife restoration, grant applications, paint finishes, Title policies, LEED Gold proposals, business pro formas, so so many financial sheets and budgets, legal papers, and of course thousands of emails.
And we've received so much support for this new building. Our lead gift came from the amazing Teresa Schiappa— she got us launched, and we are forever grateful. One of today’s honorands, board member Katherine White, kept our plan moving forward, and underwrote a major part of this building, which she named the Trevor Olson Family Athletic Center. And we are grateful to and for Alexis Hearst and Michael Howard for your kindness and confidence.
Perhaps my favorite computer file of all is a photo taken not long ago, of school legend and Great Hall namesake, David Meyer. This new building and our earlier ones constitute an integrated achievement in land use, a masterpiece, and a game changing contribution to small schools education and to our community and region—we have followers all over the world. So, since David oversaw and supervised all this work, you might envision a grand photograph of him surveying the land or commandeering a planning commission hearing—and I have those photos, but they are not my favorites. Probably my favorite photo image of David is the snapshot of him embroiled in deep consideration with some of the builders, in a heated huddle. I asked David what all the heat was about, and here is what he told me: it was about the size of a bolt. No one who knows David is surprised. Notwithstanding that this held up construction for two weeks or more, and notwithstanding the fact that David did not sleep a single night over those two weeks because of that wrong bolt size, I can’t properly express how much this photo symbolizes for me because I also live and work in a field where people rarely if ever see the detail that it takes to be great. Great education, a great school, like a completed campus, is a masterpiece in integrated detail, shadow detail that lies under the surface and is the shape of our capacity.
What differentiates the master and the great ones from all others, is often just the ability and the passion for fine detail that nobody else ever sweats and in many cases could never even imagine. It is the detail on the inside of the computer case, the quality of metal on the drainpipe, the maple cabinet that Sharon Kish finished, the handwriting of Dana Abplanalp-Diggs, and even the patina on the cleat that will hold up the bell. This is not just expertise, it is integrity, mastery, and the passionate pursuit of perfection. David, like our faculty and board and alumni, represents the universal values that our school stands on and for: accountability, perseverance, motivation, integrity, and friendship. [David Meyer is presented with a photo book.]
Designer and leadership expert Doug Katz has teamed with me for over a decade and our conversations always seem to start the same way— with Doug asking “what are you trying to achieve in this design", and me answering the same thing every time: “elegance”. I’m amazed to be cutting the ribbon on this elegant, frozen music by our brilliant architect Brian Darnell and our team on this project including the landmark tower. What a way to finish our quad… what a way to illustrate transformational independent education, to encompass great learning.
Now just one final observation. We live in a distracted and anxious time where bigness and institutionalization prevails, where big educational programs are defined by big systems and high ranks and pressures, but we must never be this way here. We built all this as open space for teens, listening space, not for us—and that’s the rarest thing of all—an environment of peacefulness and adventure; for connection to both one another and to the natural world; and for giving a diverse group of local teens a real voice that will carry them through to the next generation and the next.
Thank you all for coming. Let’s cut the ribbon!
Additional Photos and Videos
In the slideshow below, we've included additional photos from the Justice Center ribbon cutting ceremony, as well as photos showing The Grauer School's history through some of the most important milestones in its growth. You can also enjoy a video of Grauer emeritus faculty member Dr. Edith Eger, over 90, executing her signature ballet kick on the dance floor in the Justice Center, in remembrance of dancing to stay strong during her incarceration in a Nazi concentration camp.
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