Dear Flint Hill School Families,

Last Thursday and Friday marked our final Closing Ceremonies.  They were very exciting days and brought a whole host of images to me as this very productive, hectic, and full school year draws to a close.

While we refer to those ceremonies as “bittersweet moments,” they allow us to celebrate the school year and it is always sad to see some “Huskies” leave us.  I felt all of those emotions, as I am sure you did.  But I also found myself more energized, excited, and proud as each of the ceremonies concluded.

It was exciting to sit in the Activity Center on Friday morning and see the slideshow of the Lower School, showcasing the face of each of our great children and getting a sense of the projects and the activities that they were engaged in all year long.  Whether it was pictures of the “Market Days” where third graders study economics, pictures of the study of the Colonial experience and the annual trip to Williamsburg, pictures of students working with the Native American family, or pictures of children working on their poetry, writing, and sharing electronically their work, the common theme here was children were thriving and hard at work.  And then to hear them sing and to witness all of their growth over the past year, it had to make us all feel very proud.

The Middle School Closings for both, “Grades 5 to 7” and “Grade Eighth Promotion,” gave us a chance to hear of the hard work those youngsters have engaged in throughout the year.  From the Grade 5 “Innovation Across Ages” showcase, the Grade 8 “Service Learning Projects,” to the growth of their study in mathematics, science, and clearly in writing, all gave testament to how they had weathered that early adolescence period with energy and drive.  The impact the new “Makers” program has had on their creativity and learning and the spirit and pride with which teachers talked about their students, all gave evidence to the great learning being shared.  It was amazing to notice the poise of those eighth graders as they accepted their certificates and began to move to the Upper School.  It all indicates that they will be doing very well in their futures.  These same students have led the way in our four performing musical groups, Band, Orchestra, Choir, and Percussion.  They recently swept away a major competition, winning first place awards competing against public and private schools.  This only goes to showcase their growth.  And then to hear the incredible voice of Livi Jung-Moss, singing the National Anthem on Friday, had to make everyone in the room stand a bit taller.

And the Upper School Closing Ceremony was something to behold.  It was very impressive to hear the National Anthem played on the flute by Priya Gill.  This is probably one of the most beautiful renditions I have heard musically in some time.  But then to hear about the incredible opportunities and accomplishments of the students at all Upper School grade levels, made it clear that our students are working hard and are fully prepared to whatever may come their way.  Each area of learning is challenging and supportive, energizing and motivating.  To give a glimpse, here is a brief video of a project our Robotics students did this spring.  The challenge – create a helicopter that can fly goal post to goal post.  Please look at what they created (LINK).

Our Senior Class has led us throughout this year in all of our learning and soon they will be heading off to an amazing array of colleges and universities!  Many of our seniors have wrestled with tough decisions about how to chose among the exceptional schools that they have been accepted to, working to balance their own self knowledge and their desires for future studies and career paths.  How do you select between Georgetown and Harvard, the University of Virginia and MIT, the University of Virginia and Brown?  All of our great seniors were accepted at tremendous schools all across the country.  Flint Hill considers itself a “process” school.  This means that we are far more focused on how we learn and how we prepare to learn in every environment, rather than just focusing on name schools.  In fact, some of our competitors occasionally try to intimate that our students do not go to “prestigious” schools.  I like the fact that the national average of students getting accepted into Ivy League schools stands at 8.9% of applications.  Our students who applied to the Ivy’s percent wise was at 20%.  Our students are prepared!  The rigor, the challenge, the confidence, and the competence are all there, throughout our school.

So as we all head off to our summers, let’s take pride in the fact that we are a part of something very special.  Flint Hill takes great pride in the balance that it creates as part of our program and that we can give our students the tools and skills necessary without being a “pressure cooker.”  We are a school that values our balance in opportunities and in the social-emotional side of our personalities.  And our innovation continues to push ourselves to find new and more exciting ways to learn.  Ultimately, we are a school that is committed to relationships and the personal and emotional side that makes learning meaningful and more powerful.

This Friday we hold our 54th Commencement Ceremony.  Please feel free to join us as we celebrate the remarkable Class of 2014.  They are an amazing “family” of Huskies who are ready for the world.  I just hope the world is ready for them!!

It has been an honor to work with you and your children throughout this school year.  I look forward to a restful and positive summer.  We will all come back to what we all hope will be one of the most exciting years ever, as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary since the restructure of the school, and we will see the fruits of all of that effort come together in a most exciting school year.

Best wishes to you!

John M. Thomas