Giving Thanks Vespers Fills Callaway Chapel With Gratitude

At the fifth annual “Giving Thanks” Vespers, nine members of our community thanked friends, teachers, and staff alike for making a positive difference in their lives. EHS chaplains began this tradition in 2016, 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.

Over 225 submissions were received, and nine of them were selected to be read aloud by the author during the service. At the conclusion of the service, the entire community joyfully sang “On Our Way Rejoicing” for the first time in person since March 2020 as students prepared to leave campus for Thanksgiving break. As Head of School Charley Stillwell said, “Standing in the Chapel and listening to our students and faculty members reading their heartfelt, and at times very funny, messages, I was struck by how incredibly thankful I am for our community.”

Read a sample of letters below, and watch the full service on our LocalLive channel.

Petra Qian ‘24 to dance director Adrienne Taylor
Never in my life have I received so much support. I came to the program a little bit nervous. But after the first class, I completely fell in love with it. I’ve decided to continue doing this activity throughout my high school life because of the environment, the people, and mostly, you.
You are always so funny. I love how you sometimes make comments on things, and we burst out laughing. You are so positive, and that positivity is always influencing people around you, including me. You are always so passionate, and I can feel your passion the second you step into the room. You are always so encouraging, telling me I can do it when I tried something for the first time. You are warm, you are strong, and you are the type of person I want to become.

Thank you for accepting me into the program. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you, Ms. Adrienne, for being an amazing coach.
Nala Cornegy ‘23 to English teacher Katrina Reed
Whenever someone asks me what my favorite thing about boarding school is, one of the things I say is the relationships you get to form by being so close to your teammates, classmates, and teachers 24/7. You get so close with the staff when they’re your teachers, coaches, and sometimes even dorm parents. They know my strengths and weaknesses. Even what makes me laugh and what makes me cry.
Here at Episcopal it's obvious that it's a part of the teachers' or coaches' jobs to push their students or athletes out of their comfort zone — whether that be gaining confidence to speak publicly or trying to answer a problem in front of the whole class. Joining poetry, I didn't know what to expect from myself. I knew poetry just like basketball would be another chance to be outside of my comfort zone.
As someone who had a poor relationship with the sport of basketball in years prior I told her in our first basketball meeting "I'll stand under the basket and take charges I don't really know." She didn't take this as an answer and told me that there was a spot for me on this team if I allowed myself to step it up and take it. 

Similarly in poetry, you didn’t let me take the easy way out and forced me to set healthy expectations for myself. 
Thank you, Coach Reed, for always believing in me even when I don't believe in myself. 
Max Smith ‘22 to staff member Eugenio Chicas
In my time at Episcopal I have found this person to be one of the nicest in the community. Whenever I see him on dorm he always seems to be in a good mood and is always extremely polite despite the hours he works and the kids he has to deal with. You wouldn’t expect this from someone who regularly cleans up a boys' dorm, but he always has a smile on his face, holds the door, and says hello to every student.

This goes out to one of the hardest working men on campus/ I know you couldn't be with us tonight in person, but I know you're watching: Eugenio Chicas from the Berkeley maintenance crew. I am thankful for you.
Van Fraser ‘22 to math teacher Stacie Galiger and his precalculus class
I’m really bad at math. But, somehow, last period math class always seems to be a great time. We all toss our bags down and talk about what’s going on with each of us. Then we work together on various problems, and repeat the phrase “I’m tired but I understand.” Or “I swear I'm just tired” as we battle the problems out together. 
I have never once enjoyed math class in my life, but my peers have made this the best part of my day. Our small class allows us to be honest, share knowledge and experiences, and be a friend for each other during G block.
So thank you to Nala, Abdou, Lucy, Helen, and Ms. Galiger for being such an amazing group and I know you all will get mad at me for this, but our class is called fundamentals of precalculus, and yes, I mean fundamentals.