Bob Clark showcases the different elements of Chapel and how it celebrates different parts of life and School.
Since the origins of the school in 1910, weekly Chapel services have been a central pillar of the St. Anne’s-Belfield experience and express the School’s commitment to nurturing students in the spiritual dimension of life.Each week, 900 students and more than 100 teachers observe the lighting of candles, struck by an ageless fascination with an eternal flame. Chapel provides an invaluable opportunity to listen to the sacred spirit among us.
Three guideposts shape Chapel across the School. First, the century-old tradition of our service reflects the Judeo-Christian heritage and the original founding of the school by the Episcopal Church. While the School is no longer affiliated with any church, Chapel provides roots and rituals which cultivate the spiritual life and link generations of alumni.
Second, the heartfelt community of our sermons, prayers, and music highlights the vitality of student and faculty life. The experience of delivering a sermon, performing music, or sharing a prayer for a loved one embodies Headmistress Mary Hyde Duval’s wish for our “students to become strong in body, broad of mind, tender of heart, and responsive in soul.”
Third, a warm openness to religious diversity communicates cultural empathy in the 21st century. Chapel embraces inclusivity and welcomes students and faculty from all faiths and all backgrounds whether religious or secular.
While united in heritage and outlook, Chapel serves our students in developmentally appropriate ways. Unique elements shape the Chapel experience in all four divisions. Chapel Buddies and the birthday prayer create cherished early memories in the Learning Village Grades K - 4. The year-long Chapel-buddy relationship pairs Kindergartners with fourth grade students who serve as older mentors, and culminates in “original folktales” given as a gift to end the year. In the Learning Village Grades 5 – 8, the African Festival Chapel features fifth grade “mask essays,” and eighth grade students share “exhibitions” on meaningful life-changing events to close the year. Outdoor Chapel welcomes Earth Day in the Upper School with word and music on blankets in the grass. Student sermons, especially from seniors, indelibly shape Upper School Chapel and include voices spanning the spectrum of religious and cultural diversity. In each division, Moving Up Chapel commemorates the closing of each year when students literally and metaphorically move to the seats of their next grade.
Whether seen through the lens of tradition, community, or cultural empathy, Chapel communicates the heart of School life.