“Life's great happiness is to be convinced we are loved.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
There are many reasons why Natalia and I are performing arts enthusiasts and frequent patrons – but one of the main ones, for me, is how the arts can illuminate profound truths in one’s own life.
For example, Natalia and I recently attended a performance of Les Misérables at The Academy of Music in Philadelphia. It was beautifully acted, with talented singers and a gorgeous orchestra bringing the story to life within the stunning theater.
Yet even as the performances enthralled me, the story had me thinking about The Quaker School at Horsham.
For those unfamiliar, Les Misérables is the story of Jean Valjean, who is sentenced to 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving family member. After his release, he struggles for survival but eventually becomes a business tycoon and gentleman. He adopts a daughter, Cosette, and fights in the June Rebellion of 1832, all while running from the story’s antagonist, Inspector Javert, who relentlessly seeks to put him back in prison and dehumanizes him by referring to him only by his convict number, 24601.
This struggle for dignity and joy made me reflect on the journey of TQS students and their families. Before coming to TQS, our students face school lives filled with uphill battles: large classes, bullying, being called lazy and unmotivated, forced and half-hearted inclusion efforts, detentions, suspensions, unproven or lack of fidelity of interventions, and generally not being appreciated for their inherent work as human beings.
Like Jean Valjean, TQS students are also given numbers they can never forget: IQ scores, achievement test scores, and a host of numbers by which they are identified. And just as Jean Valjean seeks to leave his old life and his number behind, children with complex challenges wish for a school experience that allows them to do the same.
TQS is where this happens.
Here every student is cared for, known, and loved. Every student is more than a number. Every student has the opportunity to reset the course of their school life – and to shine in the process.
As our philosophy statement says, “The underlying basis for all things at TQS is the fundamental Quaker belief that there is the Light of God within every person, and that we are meant to share that light through our efforts, our gifts, and our actions.”
If your student wishes to leave being mistreated, labeled, and numbered behind, TQS admissions are now open for the 2023-2024 school year. I look forward to sharing this new start with more families – because, as Jean Valjean says, “It is a charming quality of the happiness we inspire in others that, far from being diminished like a reflection, it comes back to us enhanced.”
Happy holidays, and shine on,