Rick Swanson, Principal, Hingham High School
In quiet moments, like those that sometimes occur during these summer months, my eyes are often drawn to a quotation that I keep on the wall right above my desk. It’s a famous line from the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, and it says: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” And though all of us at HHS were greatly inconvenienced by the particular fire that smoldered in one of our Social Studies classrooms a few months ago, the image of fire captures the spirit of our school in a particularly meaningful way. Not the kind of fire that leaves smoke and water damage, forcing the closure of classrooms, but the kind of fire Yeats had in mind:
- A fire in the belly, a thirst for knowledge and self-improvement, the kind of drive that sends about 90 percent of our graduates off to four-year colleges and many more on to two-year colleges and trade schools every year.
- A competitive fire that has yielded academic honors for AP Scholars and National Merit semi-finalists; regional and state awards for our musicians, actors and artists; accolades for many teams, from DECA and robotics to mock trial and debate; and so many league championships, sectional titles and state championships for our student athletes.
- The fire to pursue the kind of school-wide excellence that has yielded Blue Ribbon and Green Ribbon recognition from the U.S. Department of Education.
And for Hingham High students, it’s not just about competition. A similar kind of fire reveals itself in the desire to serve others. Whether doing volunteer work during school-sponsored service trips, raising money for various causes, or raising awareness about social problems, our students look outward and find ways to make a positive difference in the world around them.
In literature, fire often symbolizes inspiration, and that’s what happens every day inside the walls of our school. Think of our students in the chemistry lab during an experiment; at the pottery wheel during a ceramics class; in the band room during an evening rehearsal; in an English classroom during a Student Led Discussion; inhaling the pine-scented aroma of the woodshop, using their hands, together with their imagination, to create something new. Think of the spark of inspiration that helps them understand something for the first time, gain an original insight, and catch a brief glimpse of the person they might become.
Fire, of course, generates warmth, and that’s what members of this community bring to one another in times of joy (the homecoming celebrations, the field days, the proms) and also during moments of sorrow. Finally, when part of a torch, fire can symbolize hope and a striving for the future. What better symbol for a school?
Have a great summer, everybody, and keep the fire burning!
The mission of Hingham High School is to graduate students with the academic, civic, social, and personal skills necessary to become productive, responsible members of a democratic and ever-changing global society. With the support and involvement of the community, Hingham High School will engage all students in a challenging, well-balanced educational program complemented by co-curricular activities.