History, You're History: Prominent Prep School Jilts George Washington for Not Being 'Relevant'

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
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FILE – In this July 8, 2015, file photo, Federal Hall’s George Washington statue stands near the flag-covered pillars of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Friday, March 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)


Move over Father’s Day — now there’s something woker. America’s patriarch is getting demoted.

Last week, prominent Nashville prep school Harpeth Hall made the decision to cancel its annual celebration of George Washington. The reason? The way they teach it, he’s not relevant to history.

Jess Hill — head of the $30,000-per-year all-girls school — provided a statement to The Tennessee Star explaining a thoughtfully-made move:

“After much thoughtful dialogue spanning several years, Harpeth Hall has decided to discontinue the annual George Washington Celebration.”

Jess gave three reasons to jilt George.

#1 – Relevance:

“It is not consistent with or relevant to the way that we teach history today.”

#2 – He’s white, and he’s a man:

“It does not demonstrate the significant role that women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups play in our nation’s history.”

#3 – People are uncomfortable:

“A growing number of students, faculty, staff, and alumnae are expressing their discomfort with this tradition.”

I suppose as history becomes more political, it makes sense — the realities of our past will be focus-group approved:

“For the past several years, the Leadership Team, faculty, and students have questioned in separate discussions the long-standing tradition of the George Washington Celebration at Harpeth Hall – a place where girls are at the center of our story. During this past school year, we held focus group discussions with our Alumnae Board and Head’s Young Alumnae Council to gather their thoughts. We also conferred with administrators and teachers charged with leading the program over many years. In consideration of their feedback and our mission, we have decided that the George Washington Celebration held on February 13, 2020 marks our final performance.”


As reported by The Daily Wire, Jess sent an email Tuesday to alumni students chronicling the history of the now-nixed event. Here’s the meat of it:

“In 1913, young women at Ward-Belmont lived and studied in a protected enclave where young men were not allowed. In an effort to provide a social activity during a winter weekend that year, Ward-Belmont students planned a party where they imagined the lives of our founding fathers, dressed in colonial costumes, and danced the minuet to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. This social occasion was not a part of the educational program and continued for decades, with a multi-year hiatus during World War II when all citizens were called upon to conserve resources and support the war effort. When Ward-Belmont closed in 1951 and Harpeth Hall began on the Hobbs Road campus, many former Ward-Belmont teachers brought traditions with them to continue the all-girls experience in Souby Hall, our first classroom building. The George Washington Celebration resumed in 1955 and served as an opportunity for beloved and revered Miss Patty Chadwell to teach dance in her Physical Education class.”

But “over the decades,” the shindig “experienced many evolutions.”

For example:

“In 1982 [it] became a seventh grade activity, where girls were assigned to be soldiers, sailors, captains of the guard, or one of the guests at the celebration. Two outstanding students, first in the junior class and later in the eighth grade, were honored each year as George and Martha Washington.”


In the interest of progress, the school — which counts among its former grads Amy Grant and Reese Witherspoon — won’t have to worry about picking a pair to honor anymore.

Call it a sign of the times — for many moons, kids grew up hearing about George chopping down the cherry tree and crossing the Potomac.

But a new day is dawning — and in the sobering sun of enlightenment, perhaps we realize the creep was just contributing to deforestation.

And that frivolous day of boating? Just a flagrant flaunting of privilege. They probably rode poverty-prohibitive Sea-Doos, too.

There’s a chance the guy wasn’t even championing social justice on his Twitter.

So — I suppose — out with the old, in with the new.

But this shiny, spanking world does leave a rather big question unanswered: Given the linear nature of time, if our history doesn’t include George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and others…what exactly happened before now?

Or is the very concept of history…history?



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