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From the Head of School

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Trevor Ott and Martha Cervantes Corral

How could someone have just one favorite memory from this Magical Hill

—Martha Cervantes Corral

The following is an excerpt from the 2022 Parents Weekend address from the Head of School Trevor Ott:

I’d like to draw your attention to what might be referred to as “Delphi magic.”

Included on the next page are a few examples of it being mentioned by over a third of this year’s graduates in their Form 8 speeches and success stories.

Students often use “Delphi magic” to describe various things about the community or their Delphian experience—it is often used to describe the sentiment that the sum of their experiences is greater than the individual parts.

When adding up the steps taken doesn’t fully explain how one reached the final destination… magic. In the last month, I found myself looking at two aspects of Delphi magic that I thought were worth commenting on.

The first example of Delphi magic is the sense of community that this group enjoys.

Delphian alumni Taylor Kugler and Eduardo Olmos recently got married in a lovely ceremony in Mexico. There were over fifty other Delphian alumni in attendance, from graduating classes spanning over four decades.

That struck me as unusual and spoke to a remarkable sense of community. Along the same line,

in any given year, despite an average graduating class of around twenty-five, close to 200 alumni return to the school on Alumni Weekend.

Of course, they return to see each other, the school, its staff, and faculty, but really they return to check on each other, the school, its staff, and faculty.

No matter how long they have been away, they uniformly describe the experience as being similar to “coming home.”

After his graduation in 1992, Chris Uno attended Alumni Weekend for twenty-eight consecutive years. The one year he missed was because his attendance was required at his nephew’s wedding.

The school created a cardboard cutout of him that was carried around to each event so that staff and returning alumni could take their photos with him as if he were there.

Life-long friendships are made here, and life-long purposes are discovered too.

While we still have a handful of founding staff who have been here for over forty years, today almost half of the faculty and staff are alumni. This community is strong. Maybe “magically” so.

I believe that a strong community is created primarily by the individuals that make it up, and the second aspect of Delphi magic I want to comment on is the magic of the individual.

Many of you will be familiar with Delphian’s tagline, Start Here, Go Anywhere.

Today, Delphian graduates can be found working successfully in a wide range of fields. Out there among our alumni are doctors, lawyers, artists, musicians, authors, entrepreneurs, botanists, farmers, business executives, company founders, ministers, biologists, chemists, humanitarians, dentists, chiropractors, actors, directors, producers, and even, as mentioned earlier, quite a few educators—and I suspect the list could go on and on.

The founding staff set out to revolutionize the field of education. Though the work is yet incomplete, it is clear that something here is different.

It’s clear in the life-long bonds and sense of community created when students share in this unique educational approach.

It’s clear in the rich diversity of individuality evident in each graduate.

Suejin Park delivering her Form 8 speech in the Upper School

At first, I couldn’t understand why people were calling Delphian ‘a magical place.’ As I went through the Delphi program, I realized what ‘magic’ they were talking about.

— Suejin Park

Tiger Shang and Gemma Bell receiving awards at Parents Weekend

The true ‘magic’ of Delphi is not only the sense of home and family here, but also the ability it gives every person to cause what they want to become real, to be the creator of their own lives.”

—Gemma Bell

Whether one calls it Delphi magic or not, something is working.

As the science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke, once said:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

There is certainly advanced technology involved, including the Study Technology and educational philosophy of Mr. Hubbard, which provide the foundation of the Delphi program.

There is a quote on the wall as you enter the fourth floor that is part of a longer piece from a book titled Education: Fostering Reason and Self-Determinism in Students, which is based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard and published by Heron Books in collaboration with Applied Scholastics. This section talks about lost contributions to mankind.

He says:

“The story of the growth of knowledge is the story of individuals, not the story of societies. Individuals make societies, societies only modify and moderate or warp individuals. All education is the education of individuals, not the education of the masses.

“Pertinent to this last, in the days since Jefferson the theory has grown largely held that philosophers and conquerors came into being as products of an age and a society, and if one had not occupied their boots another would have done so. An examination of history disproves utterly such a tenet. Humankind goes on from the milestone of one individual to the milestone of the next. Human history is the track along which men and women, here and there, have been strong

or brilliant and have changed the complexion of the road.

“This tenet has colored all modern education, which then found an excuse to assembly-line individuals, making them conform like so many dolls.

“Actually this piece of error, raising up a false standard of groupism, has through the policies of education spoiled perhaps thousands of individuals who would have been of considerable worth to the society. The paintings, plays, compositions of music, cathedrals, and states which might have been, had not bad education stepped in the way, are a real and not imaginary loss to humankind...

“An educational system which slaughters genuine capability has a wide effect. Social leveling to the arithmetic mean and to the mediocre sets up the sheep society as the model, and sheep can be stampeded because they are easily frightened and are not particularly rational. Only highly rational individuals who are the product of excellent individual educations can stay a stampede.

“An educational program which begins with the child’s parents, progresses through kindergarten and grade school, through high school and into college and preserves at every step the individuality, the native ambitions, intelligence, abilities, and dynamics of the individual, is the best bastion against not only mediocrity but any and all enemies of humankind.”

This last paragraph is the one on the wall as you enter the Upper School. From this paragraph alone, one can begin to envision an educational ideal.

As an exercise rather than as a statement, consider this excerpt as one of Delphian’s purposes:

“[To provide] an educational program which…preserves at every step the individuality, the native ambitions, intelligence, abilities, and dynamics of the individual, [as] the best bastion against not only mediocrity but any and all enemies of humankind.”

We are working hard to do this and have been for many decades. Part of the beauty of this excerpt is that it provides us with an almost never-ending challenge—we will always be looking for ways to do this better than we are.

For that purpose, I would like you to take a moment to envision, from your own point of view, an educational ideal for your child.

What facilities, curriculum, opportunities, and educators would exist in an environment capable of preserving those things at every step?

Now, compare what you envisioned to what you have observed here at Delphian, to what you have observed in other schools and to what you experienced yourselves as students.

When comparing what any school is to what it should be, one will find things to be happy with, things to improve, things to strengthen, things to add, and things to discard entirely.

When I compare this school to what it should be, there are things I’m happy with in virtually every direction. We have a wonderful school. But there is still so much to do in pursuit of a true ideal.

Trevor Ott leading the class of 2022 to the commencement pavilion

As educators, we can always get better at inspiring passion and interest in the student body across a wide range of fields, fields as wide and as varied as “the native ambitions, intelligence, abilities, and dynamics” of our students.

As a facility for the pursuit of their interests, an educational ideal would include the addition of some things we don’t have and the improvement of many things we do.

• performing arts facilities?

• STEM facilities?

• computer science?

• shop, trades, and apprenticeships?

• horticulture?

• agriculture?

• on and on…

Let your imaginations run wild for a minute. Contemplate how far we have come and how far we have yet to go.

To build the best school possible, these same steps could and should be repeated with virtually every paragraph in this book: Education: Fostering Reason and Self-Determinism in Students. That is what the founding staff did while creating this place, and that is what today’s staff continue to do.

The purpose of the course that goes along with this book reads as follows:

To improve the ability to conceive of and create an educational ideal.

Simple enough, but we can’t create an educational ideal alone here on the hill. As has always been the case, we need your help along with your understanding of exactly what it is that we are trying to create.

A character from my childhood used to say, “Knowing is half the battle.” Along that line, beginning next year, all newly enrolling families will receive a copy of this book.

Though I intentionally avoided discussing the

current state of education more broadly, I trust you know without a doubt that change is necessary to get our society out of its tailspin. Among Delphian’s broader goals is to:

Create and maintain a premier international boarding and day school where educators and other professionals can observe a new educational model.

Stated differently: to revolutionize the field of education by demonstrating an educational ideal. That said, Delphian’s primary goal is to provide the best possible education for your child. The better we become at that, the more successful we will be with our broader purpose.

None of what is happening here would be possible without you. And I would like to extend our sincere thanks for your support.