TOADTalk: What We Take With Us From Our Time at Thacher

Peter Sawyer delineates some of the ways a Thacher education puts graduates ahead of peers.
As is tradition, on Monday morning the community enjoyed an inspirational talk by the Teacher On Active Duty (TOAD). Science teacher, horseman, and freshman boys’ advisor, Peter Sawyer, was this week’s TOAD. His TOADTalk is featured below.

A week ago I had the opportunity to attend a Thacher event in Santa Monica. Thacher alums and friends were invited to tour the recording studio of James Newton Howard CdeP 1969, and after, we were treated to a discussion by a panel of Thacher alums who now work in the entertainment industry. One of the panelists was Noah Wyle CdeP 1989, who shared with the guests that his Thacher education put him ahead of his peers in three important ways.
  1. You’ve already been homesick.
  2. You know how to do your laundry.
  3. You have most likely already had your first big romantic relationship, moved on, and know that life will be OK.
Today, I want to add a few other ways that I think Thacher helps you, the students, start and remain ahead of your peers.

You know how to study in the evenings. When you get to college, many of you will find that your peers have a hard time getting down to serious work in the evenings. You actually have the opposite problem. Because you have been habituated to Study Hall, when it gets to be about 7:30 at night, you will start to feel antsy, as if something is wrong. You will start looking for that quiet peaceful place to study, while your peers are still trying to figure out what the freedom of being away from home is all about. You will get two good hours of studying in every night, and you will be on top of your studies from day one.

You will also know that life can be tough sometimes, but you have faced and overcome challenges here at Thacher that will put you in a great position for those times that you will inevitably come upon tough times. Having completed your Thacher education, you will not only know that you will come out fine on the other end, but that you will grow in the process. You will also most likely rebound faster than your peers.

You will have learned how to think. You have been challenged to not just memorize the material, but to use it in thinking about situations and processes that may be unfamiliar to you. If you know how to think, you will know how to learn, and since the average number of job changes that your generation will encounter in your working lives is between 10 and 12, you will embrace the challenge.

You will also have learned that friendship and camaraderie developed through shared experiences will build relationships that will last a lifetime. Most young people don’t develop these kinds of relationships until they go to college, but you are lucky enough to develop them now.

Lastly, I would hope that you, as I have tried to do, will live your life with the last line of the Banquet Song as your guide, “to do the best work in the world that you can till the best you can do is all done.” If you do, you will have few regrets as to where life will take you, and you will be able to move on to each new challenge in your life. The next challenge for the seniors will be college and with them, I will be graduating to my next adventure, retirement, knowing that I have faced difficult times, challenges, made lifelong friends, and that I am ready to move on.

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