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AP & Summer Assignments


We are excited to offer an alternative this year  to our summer/all-school read.  Our Summer Syllabus offers several shorter sources of learning – including a podcast episode, shorter readings from various texts, etc. – with the intention of connecting each source of learning directly back to Salisbury School’s mission and The Salisbury Gentleman, and in so doing, underscoring our motto of Esse Quam Videri.

Below you will find our summer syllabus and associated materials.  Enjoy!


Salisbury School Summer Syllabus 2021

After each item, there is a question or two. Please consider them on your own, with a family member or friend, in writing, in conversation, or any other way that helps you to make meaning.  

1.      Salisbury School Mission Statement

Salisbury School was founded to instill a vibrant enthusiasm for learning and the self-confidence needed for intellectual, physical, moral and spiritual development. Though we are a non-denominational school open to boys of all belief systems, spiritual exploration is one of our core traditions.

Built on essential core values, the School's unique culture promotes brotherhood, creativity, empathy, humility, integrity, leadership and respect.  Salisbury graduates are men of character and promise who are prepared to meet the challenges of college and adulthood and to make a difference in an entrepreneurial, technological and cosmopolitan world.

After you read, consider:

  • What images come to mind as you read Salisbury’s essential core values? Why might those be the images that come to mind?
2.      “The Salisbury Gentleman”, written by students in the 2015-2016 school year, hanging on the door of the Head of School.

A Salisbury Gentleman is an authentic, open-minded individual who puts the needs of others before his own and who is responsible and accountable for his words and actions. He is courageous in his endeavors, and when he stumbles, he seeks to grow through adversity. Embodying humility in triumph and grace in defeat, he upholds an honest appreciation for his opportunities and his community by aspiring to fulfill his duties in a manner of which he can be proud.

After you read, consider:

  • What allows us to be courageous in our endeavors? What conditions must be in place for courage to feel possible?
  • A “Salisbury Gentleman” is an ideal to which we aspire. How do you meet this description and in what areas might you need to work? How can you work on reaching this ideal?  
3.     “The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know”

Media type: Podcast episode by Brené Brown featuring Adam Grant

Connection to Salisbury: This conversation examines the courage it takes to think again about what we think we know, about the necessity of diversity of thought, and about “getting it right” rather than “being right”. Their conversation is all about how to cultivate a vibrant enthusiasm for learning.

After you listen, consider:

  • What is something you have changed your thinking about, or are in the process of changing your thinking about? How has courage played a role in that process?
  •  In the episode, Adam Grant said, “some people prefer the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt”. Do you agree or disagree? What are the potential benefits of wading into the discomfort of doubt?
  • As you engage with the rest of this syllabus, look for moments when there may be an invitation to rethink something. Pay attention to what that experience is like.
4.      “The Old Man in the Piazza” 
            audio version available here

Media type: Short story by Salman Rushdie

Connection to Salisbury: This story meditates on the consequences of apathy, closing our minds, and becoming judgmental.  Our community thrives when discourse is open, and its members look at contradictions as an opportunity to deepen their understanding.

After you read, consider:

  • What is dangerous about “the time of yes”? What is dangerous about the period of cacophony that follows? Can you reflect on a time when you have made similar mistakes in judgement?
  • What does it look like to disagree with someone in a productive manner?
5.      Tao Te Ching (verses 8, 24, 29, 64, and 71)

Media type: Classic Chinese text

Connection to Salisbury: This foundational collection of ancient wisdom champions an inquiring, growth-oriented mindset to learning, laying “fertile soil” for intellectual exploration.

After you read, consider:

  •  Can you think of an example of something you “know that you don’t know”? 
  • What would a graph of your personal growth look like? Think of an X and Y axis with “time” on the horizontal and “development” on the vertical.
  • What does it mean to “be like water” as the Tao recommends?  Can you think of examples where you have acted, or seen others act, in such a way?
6.    “The Practice of Encountering Others”

Media type: Chapter selection from An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor

Connection to Salisbury: Taylor frames “community” as a spiritual discipline that takes practice, work and commitment. The Salisbury community doesn’t just happen. It takes the work of each member and calls upon our individual responsibility to build and nurture that community.

After you read, consider:

  • On page 91, Taylor says that, “The great wisdom traditions of the world all recognize that the main impediment to living a life of meaning is being self-absorbed.” After reading the entire chapter, what do think that she meant by this? How would you respond to her?
  • Taylor says that the best way to practice this discipline is to move into relationship with someone who is different (background, belief, religion, ethnicity, etc.). How is this helpful? How can you practice this at Salisbury? How would that possibly shape your experience of community?
  • Before you arrive to school for orientation, try this “practice” on your own. Describe what happened?
7.     “Out of Many, One”

Media type: Introduction from Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants by George W. Bush

Connection to Salisbury: Bush discusses how the motto “E Plubirus Unum” is a reference to one of our country’s, and we hope one of Salisbury’s, greatest strengths: “our unique ability to absorb people from different backgrounds and cultures” into one community.

After you read, consider:

  • What does it mean to arrive to a new place? How does someone make the transition from “arriving” at a place to “belonging” at a place?
  • Can you think of some examples of that transition in your own experiences?
8.     “The Lazy River”
          audio version available here

Media type: Short story by Zadie Smith

Outgoing student body President Luke Nemsick reflected in his graduation speech that the Class of 2021 “decided that we were going to be the subject of our own lives and write our own script, not be the object of someone else’s.” Salisbury believes in the consummate importance of our boys’ gaining agency and independence. Smith’s story is an extended metaphor about the dangers of a passive existence.

After you read, consider:

  • What are some examples in your life where you “swam against the current”? What was the result?
  • What are some examples in your life where you “went with the flow”? What was the result?
  •  Should school be a place where you “go with the flow” or “swim against the current”?
9.    “You Are Accepted”

Media type: an excerpt from a sermon by Paul Tillich

Connection to Salisbury: Tillich describes acceptance in the context of grace. His view is that acceptance (of the self and others) moves the self toward community and the community toward transformation.

“Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: 

“You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much later. Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted!”

If that happens to us, we experience grace. After such an experience we may not be better than before, and we may not believe more than before. But everything is transformed. In that moment, grace conquers sin, and reconciliation bridges the gulf of estrangement. And nothing is demanded of this experience, no religious or moral or intellectual presupposition, nothing but acceptance.”

After you read, consider:

  • What does “acceptance” mean to you in your own life? Have you ever felt totally accepted, no matter what? When was this? What happened?
  • How does your own “acceptance” shape (or change) the way you act toward others?
  • How do you think that “acceptance” might impact the Salisbury community?
10.   Sarum Hymn

Connection to Salisbury: The Sarum Hymn was written by E.W. Parmelee, faculty at Salisbury from 1909 through 1927. It is sung regularly in Chapel, at sporting events, on the eve of a surprise Holiday, and anywhere else the Sarum spirit is feeling particularly strong. After a year without singing it due to COVID, we are especially excited for the community to learn it, or re-learn it, and embrace the strong feeling of community and brotherhood that it brings to life.

Loyalty and honor, Sarum
We, thy sons, now pledge thee:
Service and devotion, Sarum,
That thy name be worthy.

Hymn we so, our purpose bold,
Devout as Knights who fought of old;
Staunch as they to guard our honor,
True in act and motive. 
Faith that never falters, brothers!
Hope and Charity!

Round thee stand the mountains, steadfast,
As God’s help unfailing;
To our eyes in splendor, hourly,
All their strength unveiling.

More than all thy beauty, Sarum,
We, thy sons, will treasure
What thy spirit here has taught us,
Truth and love and service.

Father,  for our school we pray thee,
Builded to thy glory;
That we, by thy help, may keep it
Strong and pure and lovely.

After you read and listen, consider:

  • How would you define “loyalty” and “honor” when it comes to living in a community? How would you define “service” and “devotion?”
  • While the hymn was written years ago, what might it mean today to keep the school “strong and pure and lovely?”
  • Naming the “knight” as the school mascot was inspired by this old hymn. How would you describe a “knight” living today? Meaning, how would they act? What would be their highest virtues? How would they contribute to, build up, support or even protect their community? How would they act both within and outside that community? 

After you complete this syllabus, take a few moments to consider these final questions:

  • Which were your favorite selections? Why?
  • Which did you feel less drawn to? Why?
  • What is the overall “thesis” of this collection of items? How would you summarize the broad message or themes that these items convey?