School NewsDec 18, 2020

updated Aug 9, 2021

Winter Break sendoff from two Heads of School

Harkening back to words from Mira Hall during the 1918 Spanish Flu, 11th Head of School Julia Heaton bids our community a safe and healthy break

Head of School Julia Heaton shared these remarks at Community Meeting on Wednesday, December 16, 2020 —

Our MHS community is fortunate to have stayed healthy and connected this fall, and this is because of your collective efforts! Thank you for following our Common Good Guidelines, on campus and off; for being flexible in the face of changes and disruptions; and for supporting each other, whether together in person or across a great distance.

Thank you for being committed, hardworking, and resilient, for caring about each other and the world, and for making choices that help everyone to emerge stronger.

With the pandemic continuing to affect all of us around the globe, many of us have friends or loved ones directly affected by COVID, and all of us are witnessing deep losses. We are in different boats riding through this storm, but there is no doubt in my mind that we are heading to shore together.

More than a century ago, there was another global pandemic — the influenza of 1918-19. Miss Hall’s had to learn how to do school while facing a deadly virus that was unfamiliar to all. Exactly 102 years ago on this day, founder Mira Hall wrote the following letter.

While the language and medical recommendations she used are different from what I might say today, the message still has a lot of resonance for our community.

Please take good care and stay safe during the Break, especially if you are traveling. Remember the equal importance of rest and activity, connection, and time for yourself.

If you are celebrating holidays, I wish you happy holidays and traditions. Limit your in-person gatherings and interactions and follow guidelines. Even though you can’t be together with your friends and loved ones, they are still there for you. This is a great opportunity to reach out by phone or to write a letter, to tell those people how important they are to you.

We look forward to seeing you in 2021!

A letter dictated by Mira Hall to all her pupils, December 16, 1918, exactly 102 years earlier —

“Miss Hall desires publicly to express for the School deep gratitude that in the past twelve weeks of the fall term throughout an appalling epidemic, not a single case of Influenza has come to [campus].

“The Influenza and kindred diseases are now prevalent … and therefore every girl enters [the] holiday bearing the heavy responsibility of maintaining her own health.

“As an aid to this, [the students] will travel from Pittsfield warmly clad, wearing high boots, high-necked uniform, and equipped with gargling fluid, a nasal cream, and a mask for possible use.

“The Pullman company has received from the School a special request for cars thoroughly cleaned and freshly aired. To avoid the use of a dining car, the School is packing … sufficient food for the trip.

“The task remains of keeping well throughout the holidays, and on the return journey. To accomplish this, [you] will find it necessary throughout the vacation, to keep early and regular hours, to eat only simple food at regular intervals, to dress with uniform warmth, to avoid crowds [and] public places.

“The School having quartered fifty-four girls for twelve weeks thinks it not too much to ask that each girl make it a point of honor so to guard her health that she may return on time and in perfect physical condition.”