2018 Mees Visiting Scholar: Irshad Manji


Irshad Manji will visit Lawrence Academy as this year’s J. William Mees Visiting Scholar.

“The first time I talked to her on the phone, I immediately contacted [Head of School] Dan Scheibe and [Assistant Head of School] Libby Margraf and asked about bringing Ms. Manji here,” recalled Associate Head of School Rob Moore. “She’s unbelievable!”

An internationally bestselling author, educator, and the founder of the Moral Courage Project, Irshad Manji has dedicated herself “to help people live with integrity and wholeness, especially those who feel limited by culture, religion, or society.”

This mission, she has said, is “a life-long journey.”

Established in 2010, the J. William Mees Visiting Scholar Program was founded “to raise the intellectual awareness and level of the whole community by bringing a visiting scholar who could be a role model to our students, and to our faculty.”

“It’s the idea that somebody comes in who we can learn from: how do they do their work, how are they passionate about their work, how are they successful?” said Mr. Moore.

Past visiting scholars have included author Andre Debus III, poet Taylor Mali, singer/songwriter Dar Williams, mathematicians Adam Boucher and Tim Fukawa-Connelly, playwright and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, science professor Dr. Peter Groffman, and Cold War specialist Francis Gary Powers Jr.

“All of them [have] incredible intellect, passion, success; but success because they’re doing what they love,” Mr. Moore explained. “I think that’s what we’re trying to role-model for the kids.”

Irshad’s work approaches moral courage as not only a virtue and attribute but also as a skill one can develop and use to take action for the greater good; it means “doing the right thing in the face of your fears.”

At the University of Southern California, Ms. Manji teaches moral courage as a leadership practice that applies to everyone, from students to executives.

Speaking of The Moral Courage Project, Mr. Moore said, “It’s about decision-making, it’s about leadership, it’s about taking responsibility for yourself, and empathy.It ties into the attributes work we’re doing at Lawrence right now.”

“It all ties into the work we’re doing at LA right now.”

A dynamic and personable speaker whose energy is at once infectious and inspiring, Majic was selected by The World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and received the Tom Lantos Award for Human Rights and Justice.

She is the author of the 2004 international bestseller The Trouble with Islam Today, the director of the Emmy-nominated PBS film Faith Without Fear, and in 2011 published Allah, Liberty & Love, “which shows how Islam can be modernized for our time, the most pluralistic in human history.”  She is also the winner of Oprah’s first annual award for “nerve, conviction, and boldness.”

Ms. Manji will be Lawrence Academy’s resident scholar from February 4 – 6, 2018. She will meet with students in language classes, work with members of the community on issues of diversity and identity, and make a presentation to the community at large on Monday, February 5 in the Richardson-Mees Performing Arts Center (RMPAC).

To learn more about The Moral Courage Project and Irshad, visit the website.


Arnold & Evans: NEPSAC All-Stars

LA Basketball

Coach Mastrangelo congratulates Nicolette Arnold ’19 and Ashley Evans ’20.

DEDHAM, MA — Two girls’ basketball Spartans took to the court to represent Lawrence Academy at the 2017 – 2018 NEPSAC Class B All-Star Game.

Hosted by Nobles, Nicolette Arnold ’19 and Ashley Evans ’20 joined the “East” squad and impressed LA’s longtime girls’ basketball guru Donna Mastrangelo.

“Both girls did an outstanding job representing our school,” said Coach Mastrangelo, postgame. “They made big stops defensively, rebounded well, and there was a huge block by Ashley

“Also, they both did well on the offensive end with impressive assists by Nicolette, and key baskets by each girl.

“They put the East ahead while they were in the game,” she said.

Congratulations to both Spartans, not only for their fine showing on Sunday but also for an excellent winter season.


Boys’ Hockey: NEPSAC Champs

MANCHESTER, NH — Following their 6-2 win over St. Mark’s in the quarterfinals, the boys’ varsity hockey team prolonged the winter season with two overtime wins and emerged as the tournament’s eventual champions.

LA Hockey

Lots of smiles at St. Anselm…

After beating Gunnery 3-2 in OT in Connecticut on Saturday, the team traveled to St. Anselm College to take on the New Hampton School on Sunday in the final game of the Piatelli/Simmons bracket. After an end-to-end contest finished 4-4 in regulation, the Spartans managed to edge the Huskies 5-4 off a goal from forward Gunnar-wolfe Fontaine ‘20 with 8:22 on the clock in overtime.

“[I’m] so proud,” said co-captain Andrew Moynihan ‘18 after the game. “Every single player in that room would do something for the person next to them, and I think that’s what’s most important.”

“It’s been a huge honor,” added fellow captain and senior Jack Cameron.

“To be a captain of this team and go win the championship—it means so much to me, it could’ve been anyone out of eight or nine of us in the room…I feel very fortunate, very lucky to be in that position.”

“We preach family first, right from the get-go,” head coach Robbie Barker reflected.

“I tell the guys, ‘You’ve got to believe in yourself, you’ve got to believe in each other, and you can’t play for yourself’—it’s a team game, and that’s a great example of what happened today.”

Boys’ Hockey Heads to the Semis

Varsity boys’ hockey is heading into the second round of the New England Playoffs

By Allie Goodrich ’13

The Spartans varsity boys’ hockey team is headed to Connecticut to play The Gunnery School at 1:30pm on Saturday, March 3, after defeating St. Mark’s 6-2 in Wednesday’s NEPSAC quarterfinal.

“Overall, I thought we played a really tight game,” said head coach Robbie Barker. “Our first goal came off a power play, and those guys worked really well together.”

“We took their opportunities away, we played well defensively, we were relentless on the  forecheck, we tried to cause a lot of turnovers…we played our systems well.”


Co-captain #4 Jack Cameron ’18 gets ready for a face-off in their own zone.

For defenseman (and co-captain) Jack Cameron ’18 and his fellow seniors [James Miller, Andrew Moynihan, Kyle Gielow, Nathaniel Althoff, and Neil Shea], the game was “a little bittersweet”, as it marked their last contest on the ice in Grant Rink.

“Speaking on behalf of most of the seniors, this place has done so much for us,” Jack said after the game. “We can’t thank Coach Barker, the rink staff, Mr. Potter, and Frank enough for everything they’ve done for us and helping us become the players we are.”

Advancing to the second round “feels good,” said Cameron. “We would’ve liked to have a bit of a stronger finish than we did, but we can save that for the next game.”

“I think at this point, everyone is going to be up for the game—playoffs are a whole different level than the regular season, especially travelling.

“None of us want to go home early.”

Gutsy Global Citizens

GROTON, MA — The past eight years have borne a variety of distinguished professionals to the Lawrence Academy campus.

Established in 2010, the J. William Mees Visiting Scholar Program has enabled the community to learn from and engage with best-selling author Andre Debus III; pop-folk singer-songwriter Dar Williams; mathematicians Adam Boucher and Tim Fukawa-Connelly; science professor Dr. Peter Groffman; Cold War specialist Francis Gary Powers; and award-winning playwright and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“Education is not just for school, and visiting scholars show that ideas and subjects have their highest meaning when they are applied in the greater world,” said Headmaster Dan Scheibe.

“They constantly elevate the work of education beyond the merely academic, and in this sense, they advance the highest goals of our Academy: to inspire action for the greater good.  Beyond that, our scholars have been fascinating, stimulating people, and we take great joy and fun in spending a few days in their presence.”

Irshad in person…

Which brings us to LA’s 2018 visiting scholar.  An author, educator, and founder of the Moral Courage Project, Irshad Manji embodies what it means to, in the words of Mr. Scheibe, “enact, activate, and actualize”.

Shortly after 9/11, Ms. Manji wrote her New York Times bestseller The Trouble With Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith, a book that took her around the world and first introduced her to the concept of moral courage.

After the book was published, she recalled, “the backlash that I received made a number of people approach me to say, had I ever heard of this leadership tradition known as moral courage? And at the time, I actually hadn’t.”

Defined as “doing the right thing in the face of your fears”, moral courage constitutes the kind of leadership exemplified by Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and the “many others whose names we will never know” who were part of those movements, said Ms. Manji.

Doing the Right Thing

The movements generated by such leaders have spanned continents, and their messages are universal.  As Manji learned more about the meaning of moral courage, “I actually got quite excited, because it was an inclusive tradition. It had nothing to do with Islam; it had everything to do with any community that needs accountability from within.”

So began the Moral Courage Project, a multimedia undertaking primarily producing videos of young people “who are speaking truth to power for the greater good”.  The team also speaks at schools and offers a number of resources to individuals who are interested in becoming leaders.

“But leaders who have integrity,” Irshad emphasized. “Not leaders who are after material success. Not that I’m against that—just that our focus is on having peace within yourself and doing better for whatever community you identify with.”

It’s Not Easy

None of this work is meant to be easy; in order for real change to occur, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and this starts with learning how to sit with one’s self first.

“Every one of us has an ego,” said Irshad. “And that ego tends to make people very hard in their identity, so that if anything feels like it’s threatening my identity, then instead of dealing with myself and why I’m feeling this way, we tend to lash out at other people.”

Self-awareness and moral courage go hand-in-hand, but a sense of “world awareness” is also important, which Ms. Manji defines as “awareness of the world around you and what you think, so I can actually see you as a human being and not as a potential threat to who I am.”

Skills to be Learned

“The long and the short of it is that these are skills, and as skills, they can be learned,” said Manji.

“If you recognize that no matter how many people say to you, ‘how dare you’, or ‘who the hell do you think you are’, or ‘you’ve got to wait’ before you can say or do something; if you understand that you are first and foremost a human being, just like they are, there’s no need to wait to begin to experiment with your voice.”

With enough time, attention, patience, and practice, “an essential part of a good life, a well-examined life, and a meaningful life” begins to emerge, and with it, the formation of “global citizens—‘gutsy’ global citizens.”