The recent anniversary of Walter Annenberg’s historic gift to Peddie led me to pause and contemplate not only the significant changes that have occurred here over the past 25 years, but what Ambassador Annenberg would think of the Peddie of today.
“I’m interested in the young people,” Annenberg said, “because the character of our country will be shaped by young people in the days ahead.” Peddie took his perspective to heart and, over the years, shaped our school into a unique community that not only helps good students become outstanding ones, but to also become better citizens.
So, what is it about our community that helps build character in our young people and makes them eager to contribute to the greater good? While I have my own thoughts about this, the Peddie board and leadership made a point this past year to reach out and ask the students themselves, as well as their parents and our alumni.
Over and over, we heard that Peddie’s “sense of community” is what draws students here and is the foundation for the Peddie experience. Students spoke about Peddie as their second home and the benefits of being surrounded by faculty and staff who are always available to them. “Peddie is a tight-knit community where faculty and students bring out the best in each other both inside and outside of the classroom,” said one alum.
This community is seen as helping students to explore their passions through Peddie’s wide breadth of program offerings and activities and to learn more about themselves and move on to reach their potential, whatever they decide that might be. One freshman told about his own transformation. He said he wasn’t the most focused student and came to Peddie mainly to play soccer, but by the end of his first year, he found that “I actually love school!”
Frequently the students told stories about how they support each other and how spending so much time together with people from a variety of backgrounds helps them learn how to appreciate differences of opinions, culture and socio-economic status.
The most enlightening and welcome comments from students and alumni addressed how much they value the way in which the Peddie community puts them on the path to become entrepreneurial citizens. One student described the school this way: “Peddie cares about the whole person and making a difference to the larger world.”
"Peddie cares about the whole person and making a difference to the larger world."
After hearing from members of our Peddie family, I am confident the school has truly embraced Annenberg’s perspective on the role education can play in developing good character and an affinity for civic responsibility. Our community is transformative and those who comprise it recognize the impact it has on life while a student and beyond. One alum shared the sentiment that Annenberg would appreciate the most, and which summarizes our mission and position in the education world: “Peddie is a community that is passionate about building good citizens.” What greater purpose could we have?