Smooth Transitions

A few months ago in our upper school assembly, we watched a video of our relay team swimming in the 2017 State Swim Meet in Knoxville.  Of course, we were celebrating our state championship team and were excited to cheer while watching the “bearacudas” finish strong.  As I studied those girls on the big screen, I was struck by the smooth and well-practiced transitions.  I could barely see the swimmer touch the wall when suddenly the next swimmer was diving over her and maximizing the distance and speed with her dolphin kick.  Waiting and watching more closely, once again, I missed it. I could barely see one swimmer finish before the next began.

Of course the classic metaphor for a transition is when a runner on a relay team smoothly hands the baton to the next runner.  Our relay team has perfected it, and we hope they will display this skill at the 2017 State Track Meet next week.  Barely a change in speed as one ramps up and the other executes the handoff at full speed.  Balance, precision, and an understanding of the next in line come together to produce the perfect transition.

One doesn’t have to be a runner or a swimmer to know how important transitions can be to the success or failure of a race.  To date, Harpeth Hall’s relay has been 151 years long, and after our few laps, each of us must continue to execute a beautiful and smooth transition.  We want to practice and prepare for that transition in the same way our swimmers and runners do, by ensuring a precise hand-off, adeptly and smoothly.  We are using our mission as the baton to pass to the next in line.

I join our community of teachers and students in being overjoyed with the announcement of Armistead Lemon as the person to whom I will pass our baton.  We enthusiastically support her as the right person for this job.  As I turn the corner on that final stretch, she will be ramping up for the handoff.  It will take place at the end of June and beginning of July, and our goal is to make it as seamless as possible.  Perhaps you will barely be able to see it happen.

A happy memory that will stay with me for a long time, was the day that Ms. Lemon’s appointment was announced.  During assembly that afternoon, the students cheered and squealed in Reese Witherspoon reception proportion.  Early that morning, before school started, the faculty responded in a similar manner.  After Dr. Balmer announced the news and invited her to come to the front of the Richards Room, Ms. Lemon turned to the teachers with a broad smile and said to the faculty, “We’ve got this, people!”  And so we do.

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