John P. Gulliver, the principal founder of Norwich Free Academy, said this at the school’s dedication ceremony on October 21, 1856:
“The founders wish explicitly to declare that education…is, in their estimation, of far more importance than mere instruction. Knowledge, stored in the memory, may easily be lost, but the power to acquire knowledge…once gained, is never lost. A logical habit of thought, a clear, reasoning mind, once possessed, is a treasure forever. Such are the convictions of the originators of this enterprise.”
And such are the convictions of the Academy today. This has been a year filled with many challenges. Through each one, the focus has been on providing our students with the type of education envisioned by our founders. That has been the model since day one of this institution and nothing will – or should – change that. Norwich Free Academy will continue, as always, to actively promote racial and social justice in our community.
We are in the midst of perhaps the most teachable moment in the lives of our students. This is beyond instruction. This is education. In witnessing the recent efforts in our community to raise awareness about racial and social injustice, it is clear that not only have our students learned, but they have also become involved, as they often do in times of great importance. They continue to be involved. They continue to learn. They continue to lead. And that makes all of us better.
More than 2,300 students of all backgrounds attend Norwich Free Academy. There isn’t a more diverse school in the region. We are proud of that diversity. We embrace it every day, providing an environment for our students in which they can learn, engage and be heard. It has been a hallmark of this institution since its inception, and it will continue for future generations.
For nearly 600 of our students, their future begins Thursday during the 162nd commencement of the Academy. These students will enter into the world, knowing that “the power to acquire knowledge…is never lost.”
The world may be different, but these graduates – and all of our students – are ready. Not just to embrace the world, but to change it.