Sophia Academy is a school of abundant opportunity where middle school girls discover and develop their potential and become confident and compassionate young women prepared to meet the challenges of their world.
A Thank You to Our Friends, from Sophia Academy
This week, we learned a lasting lesson about what community means, and it came from you, our friends. Some of you have been friends from our beginning, 12 years ago, as a middle school for girls from Providence families living in poverty. Some of you were strangers to us until just a few days ago. But today, we are proud to call you all our friends and consider you part of our Sophia community. At SophiaAcademy, we call ourselves a community of learners, and we take both learning and our sense of community seriously.
Last weekend, thieves broke into our school building, ransacked our classrooms, and stole more than $50,000 of new computer equipment and bags of Christmas gifts that had been donated to the students. The theft was discovered Monday morning and was publicized Monday afternoon and throughout the week. Within 24 hours, the generosity of hundreds of individuals combined with sizable gifts from the Hasbro Foundation, Brown University, and St. Edward’s Parish have made up our financial loss. We were simply astounded by the speed with which you, our friends, rallied to make us whole.
Bobbie and Bob Bacon, proprietors of Gregg’s Restaurants are the original donors of our students’ stolen gifts. The Bacons have been providing gifts to the girls for many years now through their giving tree program. After the robbery, the Bacons once again came forward and joined St. Edwards in replacing all the gifts, even donating trays of cookies for the girls. Our appreciation is heartfelt.
And the generosity has continued. Since Monday we have received support from BankRI, Delta Dental, Fidelity, Bryant University and offers from many others. We have received large and small gifts from people who have walked in off the street and brownies made by first grade students who were concerned that our students have the snacks they need.
We want to thank you.
We also want to share with you something we learned.
We at Sophia have prided ourselves on creating a safe refuge: a place where students, faculty and staff have the intellectual and emotional confidence and trust to explore and take risks in the pursuit of success. Our girls come from loving families who care enough about their education to have made our private, gender-specific school their choice; families contribute up to $1,000 per year to the $12,500 tuition, not a token amount for families living at or near the poverty line.
But we learned this past week that Sophia isn’t surrounded by some magical ‘protective shield’ just because we’d like that to be true. What is magical is that when our security was threatened, so many people we knew and didn’t know stepped up to protect us, to stand with us and support us. What we learned is that the strength of a community isn’t in its imperviousness to harm: the strength of a community lies in the generosity of its people who step forward to help it heal when it is threatened.
And if that is the measure of strength, SophiaAcademy is an Atlas, strong enough to hold up the sky.
Long after these 61 students leave Sophia, they and our faculty and staff will remember that the biggest gift we received this week isn’t the money that was donated, though obviously that is invaluable. The biggest gift we received was the knowledge of how many good friends we have who care about us. Today one of our teachers read aloud letters of support we received from students at another school. As our head of school reminded us then, we learned this week that we live in a village.
For all of this, we thank you and wish you a happy holiday season.
Sara Shea McConnell
STUDENTS AND FAMILIES