Secrets of The Summit: The Historical Tour Series

by Tracy Law, Ph.D. ‘85

In this 130th year of The Summit, I often wonder what our foundress, Sister Superior Julia, would make of us today. Would the technology delight or repulse her? Would she recognize the spirit of the learning community that she worked so diligently to foster?

When Pat Kelly, retired Upper School English teacher and the first Summit historian, developed his historical tour in the 1990s, he hoped to create a bridge between the school’s past and present. Asked about this genesis, Pat shared, “The tours gave me a chance to show off the building and the people who made Summit the caring and challenging place it is today and has been for 130 years. I hoped to get people to see more clearly the wonders of the place and to understand that they were carrying on a tradition of gentle teaching and learning that reached back to 18th century France. We are all part of the mission articulated by Sister Julie and embodied in the building and its practices by Sister Julia.”

During this pandemic year, a great deal of brainstorming swirled around the question of finding ways to sustain and strengthen our sense of community. As the current school historian/archivist, I have seen how the experience of the historical tour has sparked a connection between Summit’s past, present, and future. Developing this video series with Ryan Glass ’11, our school videographer, is our tangible contribution to this connection – to the knowledge that our foundations, physical and personal, make us who we are today, but also that who we currently are is shaping our future.

As Ryan has articulated, “Summit has so many intricacies that, as a student, I wasn’t aware of. Current students, parents, and alums alike have commented, ‘What? Wow!’ and ‘I can’t believe that!’ or ‘That’s so cool!’ Sharing this historic information with The Summit community has definitely started a buzz!”