What the Oak Tree Can Teach Us

Out front of SAA stands an oak tree. I don’t know its age, but I dare say it’s been here as long as the school has existed, perhaps longer. The roots of this aged tree run deep. Over the years countless boys have run and played under its leafy branches. Boys have gathered there to talk, to study, and under its protective shade in the late spring, to graduate and then move on. The oak tree has stood the test of time watching over our boys as they turn into young men.   

Much like the oak tree, our school, too, is firmly planted in a rich loam of tradition and history. Like the oak tree, our school’s motto: “Be honest. Be kind. Be the best you can be.” also runs deep. It’s what firmly grounds us to the way we conduct ourselves at school, at home, and beyond.  Over countless years, the oak tree has weathered hard winds and changes beneath it, and yet, it still stands as a testament to its strength, honor, and integrity. Our oath, our school, is no different.

I don’t know how many Commandants have come before me. But it’s important to me to take on the lessons of the oak tree. To carry on the traditions of this historic school, to deepen my roots, to look for continued growth, and to broaden my balance. I look to the oak tree to teach me:

-   How to deal with difficulty, yet stay quiet, patient and flexible.
-   Face challenges courageously and with integrity.
-   Steal happiness in every season and live happy no matter what comes my way.
-   Keep firm and with honor rise steadily and wisely.
-   And finally, to provide a protective shade for our boys so they might grow to be men.

The oak tree is a symbol to me. It has lived through its own change and has survived. It is hard, healthy, and strong. It has watched over the change in our boys and of our school. It reminds me of the passage of time, and of the aches and joys we experience. From now on, I will view our oak tree a little differently. And draw strength from it.


Col. (Ret.) Steve Marshall, Director of the Military Program & Student Life
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