This feature was first published in Journeys Summer 2020.
This article was written by superintendent Tom Boasberg.

These were all the wonderful givens of my first year at Singapore American School. The things I got to do so often I could almost take them for granted as a part of my daily life. Then, all of a sudden, these givens were givens no longer, as the impact of COVID-19 took so much away from our daily lives.

Over time, it has hit me with full force that I should never have taken for granted all of these wonderful things as daily givens. They are not givens. They are gifts—gifts for which I was grateful at the time but am even more so now as I miss them and long for them to return.

I have shared with our students and educators that it is okay to mourn for what we miss with our school being physically shut down this spring. Naturally, we all felt a sense of loss, and nobody more than our seniors who were unable to come together for some things they had looked forward to for a long time. We should not try to hide or downplay that sense of loss.

At the same time I have felt that loss for these gifts, I have also come to appreciate so many other gifts that we do get to experience every day. I am very thankful for our family’s health and our chance to be together. I am thankful to live in a community with such an excellent health care system accessible to all. 

And I am especially thankful to be part of a community that has shown so much strength and caring in adversity. I could not have imagined how well our teachers and students would transition to distance learning and the quality of the learning experiences we have been able to offer our students. It has been far from easy and certainly not perfect, but I am deeply grateful for the hard work of our teachers and the adaptability and resilience of our students in facing these new challenges. I have also very much appreciated how community members stepped up to help each other. At a time when adversity could have driven us apart, students, teachers, and parents pulled together to offer helping hands, work closely together, and care for each other. And, as difficult as it has been, our students learned important lessons about dealing with adversity and managing major changes.

These are lessons they will no doubt benefit from for the rest of their lives—even if this was not at all what we had planned for them!

For our seniors, who missed so many events and traditions they had long looked forward to, I particularly admire their resilience and optimism. I know that they will always look back with regret about not having had the chance to celebrate some of these SAS traditions in person. Nevertheless, I hope that over time they will fully realize that the underlying strengths the senior year traditions celebrate— the formation of lifelong friendships, the sense of accomplishment, the opening of doors to promising next steps in their lives—are still there and will still be there. We will celebrate these strengths in different ways this year and in the future, but I have no doubt that our seniors will enjoy them for many years to come.

And, for the rest of us who will come back next year, I hope we will take a lot fewer things for granted as givens, but instead, be deeply grateful for all the gifts we are so lucky to enjoy. We have an extraordinarily bright future ahead of us at SAS, and I, for one, am very much looking forward to it!


Journeys, our print publication, shares current, in-depth stories written by and for members of our school community. It is mailed to current families, faculty, staff, and alumni in December and June. If you are interested in contributing an article to Journeys, email communications@sas.edu.sg. Read more articles here