As part of a relatively new campus Thanksgiving tradition, some 150 students, faculty, and staff wrote short notes of gratitude to individuals in the Episcopal community who make a significant difference in their lives.
EHS chaplains began this tradition three years ago, and it has become a popular way for students, faculty, and staff to pause and intentionally recognize and give thanks to those they hold dear.
This year, the chaplains received 150 letters. Said the Rev. Betsy Gonzalez, the head chaplain, during the Thanksgiving Vespers service: “You wrote to old roommates, new roommates, coaches, challenging teachers, teammates, the dining hall team, dorm heads, new friends, old friends, boy and girlfriends, and difficult friends, too — all people who have changed you for the better. And in your messages, you lifted up what makes this community so resilient and unique.”
Ten individuals read their letters aloud during the annual Thanksgiving Vespers service. Excerpts from some of those appear below. To watch the entire Vespers service and hear others, go to our LocalLive channel
Zeddy Williams ’21, to English teacher Molly Pugh
My freshman year, when I lost both my grandmother and later my godfather, I remember crying and being alone in my little room on Hummel. After taking some time off at home, I arrived back on campus with a plan to just move on and continue with school, running, and my social life. As these three parts of my life were hard to maintain because of how much I missed them and hated the simple fact that they were no longer here with me, you were the one to get me out of my comfort zone and express my feelings.
Before class, after class, or even during a moment when we randomly passed each other on campus, you made it your goal to check on me as if I was one of your own children. Over the next few months, I began to feel a sense of love and support away from home that I simply needed. I believe God puts people in your life for a reason, and you never fail to support those reasons. I am forever grateful for you, Mrs. Pugh.
Mia Azmoudeh ’22 to her sister, Amber ’20
I know that this is supposed to be about how grateful I am for you, but I cannot help but start off by saying I am sorry. I am sorry for not taking care of you the way you have taken care of me my entire life. I am sorry for not being there when you needed me the most, even though you have always been there for me. Last, I am sorry for not showing how much I am grateful for you, and hopefully, this shows you how thankful I am to have you in my life.
I don't want to say that school brought us together, but I know that we definitely haven't been this close in a while. I understand that you are leaving soon, and it pains me to realize that my lifelong friend is going away. Thank you, Amber, for being more than a sister, but my best friend.
Claire Boehm ’20, to Rosa Galo, who works in Laird Dining Hall. In the Vespers service, she read her letter first in Spanish, then in English.
I saw you every day for nearly two years, but I never thought to introduce myself. When I finally gathered the courage, I soon realized all that I had been missing out on. You spoke with me in Spanish, encouraging me to make mistakes and try my best to communicate with you. Then, after I spent two weeks of my summer in Chile, you noticed how much better my Spanish had become, and we chatted even more.
We have spoken almost every morning this year, and you even call me your “hija” or “ninita,” which translate to “daughter” and “little girl,” while I call you “Mama.” Your hugs and smile always brighten up my day, and it breaks my heart when people pass you without saying hello or thanking you for keeping the nook clean and organized, among many other things. Señora Rosa Galo, thank you so much for your contribution to our community for the past 14 years. You work harder than anyone I know, and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to see your beautiful smile every day.
Chineme Agulanna ’20 to Justin Yi ’21
I was leaning toward going down the wrong path, but you diverted me to the right one. I can easily say you have made the biggest impact in my life. You have helped me understand the value of being at Episcopal, and the importance of hard work.
The more I got to know you, I realized how similar we were, but there was something that made you stand out: your determination. In everything you did, there was that extra effort put in, and fortunately for me, you pushed me along with you.