The return to Williston from Thanksgiving break is generally accompanied by the excitement and energy of the beginning of a new term, but this year, we confronted the loss of a devoted friend with the news of Al Lavalle’s passing. True to his legacy (and a sign of the times) the outpouring on social media sites was immediate, passionate, and memorable. I notified the community via email, but Mr. Mark Conroy’s moving tribute at our all-school assembly on Wednesday best captured the moment.
As Mark said: “With no disrespect for teaching faculty, students learned as much from Al during his tenure in the ‘cage’ as in any classroom.” Mr. Conroy then read from the 2007 yearbook dedication which honored Al for his service, friendship, and mentoring—all done from the unusual classroom space of the lower level of the athletic center and the equipment cage. It just goes to show you, the purpose of boarding schools, and their unique and irreplaceable value, is what happens outside of the classroom walls.