Dear Flint Hill School Families,
Over Spring Break, we were in California to visit two of our sons and their families. Our oldest granddaughter lives just north of San Francisco and plays volleyball for a major club program. It was fun to catch up with her and to spend time with her. She has developed two very strong passions in her life. One is singing; and in fact, last year she won the Miss Marin County American Idol Competition. Her second passion is her love for volleyball. Annadel is a ninth-grader, six-feet tall, with long blonde hair that is often pulled back in a ponytail, and she is in full-blown adolescence. Even looking like an adult, she can be silly and childish one minute and be mature beyond her years the next. She is absolutely fun to be around.
As we arrived, we agreed to meet them all, on Sunday, at a volleyball tournament that was being held in the Russian River Valley. This area of California is one of the leading wine producers in the state. As we headed to the tournament, we passed numerous wineries along the way. We saw beautiful estates, farms, ranches, and vineyards with names of wines that you often see in stores, like La Crema, etc. But that day, we spent the entire day in a high school gym, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 pm, watching game after game of volleyball.
As we sat there and cheered her on and watched countless games of teams that we did not know, we also joined her teammates and their families for the occasional break or snack in between games. It hit me that this is the sacrifice that many of our families here make to support their children when they are engaged in athletics and in the arts. I was reminded of how much time, effort, love, and care it all takes for a family to give up days and weekends to be a part of these activities. The travel. The planning. The commitment of not just the athlete or musician but of everyone in the family. This was evident, as Annadel’s younger brother, Henry (9), was with us along with a close family friend who brought two children to cheer alongside us. It made me realize once again how much it demands on everyone’s part. At the same time, I know it means a great deal to the young people to have their families and friends come watch them — to cheer them on, to share in their triumphs, and to be there to give them a big hug when things don’t go quite as well as they had hoped.
It was a great day and yet an exhausting one for us. And, it was a vivid reminder of what many of you experience on a regular basis now or you may experience in the future. It allowed me to face what many of you experience on a regular basis. It is one of the reasons why I always make a point of going to watch our Huskies perform at concerts, special events, games, or whenever they make presentations to their classmates. We need to see them in action, and they need to know that we care enough to want to come and watch them perform, and to validate the extreme effort and sacrifice they and their families have put into developing, nurturing and supporting their passions.
In that context, I wanted to remind you that next Wednesday, April 10, at 7:00 pm, we will have our annual Arts Jam Concert at George Mason University. It will be held in their beautiful Center for the Arts. This concert promises, once again, to be unbelievable in the quality of the program and the beauty of the moment; it is worthy of all of our families regardless if you are in the Lower, Middle or Upper School division. It is free and open to the public. All of the Upper School performing arts groups will be engaged on stage throughout this beautifully orchestrated performance. You will have the opportunity to witness the talent of our orchestra, symphonic, and jazz bands, choir, percussion, Major Minors (our a capella group), dancers, and even a special preview of the upcoming Upper School musical “The Music Man!” This year, students will be performing a great deal of Broadway music as part of the show. You will hear music from “Hamilton,” “Waitress,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” music from Britney Spears and a special tribute to Aretha Franklin. Over 160 of our music-talented students will be on stage! This is not a concert to be missed. Please join us, and add it to your calendars for next week now so that you can make it a family night next Wednesday. Some families make this a tradition, and they go out for a quick dinner together and then head to the show, realizing that they would have to spend a lot of money if they were to go to the Kennedy Center, while our great performance is for free; you will see far more talent than you could ever dream possible.
If you are a parent of a Senior or a parent of alumni, you have also been invited to a special reception at 6:00 pm, prior to the performance. That reception will be held in Grand Tier II, on the upper level of the theater. You will get a chance to be with other Senior and alumni parents, as well as board and leadership members. You will still have plenty of time to head in to get a great seat for the night. This is our celebration of the Arts and of our remarkable Seniors and their families who have sacrificed so much to help develop their talents, skills, and passions.
I promise you that the students will be deeply appreciative of your attendance, and they will notice the crowd. Last year, the Mason Ushers who helped us were absolutely stunned by the size of our crowd. One even shared, “This is more people than we often get at our events!” Your active participation by attending helps our “artists” grow in their confidence and their competence, as we are there to cheer them on, stand in all of their poise and talent, and make it truly one of the great evenings in our Flint Hill School calendar.
So, enjoy the start of the spring, celebrating it with a nice performance next Wednesday at George Mason University. Don’t hesitate to encourage your friends, neighbors, and extended family members to join you as well, as they will all be blown away by what they will witness.
And, finishing my original tale, as we finished a long Sunday watching volleyball, Annadel came up and gave us a big hug and a thank you for being there and for being able to see her in one of her volleyball games. She was glad we were there, and we appreciated her appreciation. She also thanked us for listening to her impromptu concert in the living room later that night, as she sang not just some songs by famous artists but also several that she had composed herself. It was a tremendous visit that just reminded us of how fast time flies by and how we all need to cherish each and every moment.
We need to all cheer on this next generation that will be so important to all of us. I look forward to seeing you next week at the concert.
Best wishes to you!
John M. Thomas