Dear Flint Hill School Families,

Friday gave us the opportunity to celebrate our tremendous Senior Class. The “54th Commencement” here at school was a time of joyous celebration. This class set a tone of kindness, character, and commitment all year long.  We use Commencement to focus on the students as they prepare to leave us.  If you were able to be here with us, you had a chance to understand who they are as individuals and as a class. If you were not able to attend, let me give you some insight into this class and all they have accomplished.  So often, people ask about “outcomes” and whether “it is all worth it.”  You could not be in the presence of these amazing students and not sense their confidence, competence, and commitment.  To give you a quick sense here are some quick facts:

  • There are 123 Seniors in the Class of 2014
  • Five attended the Governor Schools of Virginia last summer
  • Two sets of twins, six who have parents currently on the Board of Trustees, three whose parents are former members of the Board, four students of current faculty and staff members, one whose parent was a former teacher, and one who has an aunt and uncle who were both graduates of Flint Hill
  • A Jack Kent Cooke scholar, a Horatio Alger scholar, and two Emerging Scholar graduates
  • One who was drafted by the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team
  • Three who couldn’t attend graduation on Friday because of outside commitments, since one is a professional race car driver and had a major race, another is a member of the US Under 20 National Girls’ Soccer Team and had to be at a major international tournament in France, and a nationally ranked golfer who also had to miss due to a tournament in Kentucky.
  • In this class there were filmmakers, Tae Kwon Do black belts, a published poet who has two books currently under her belt and a third due out in August, a founder of a non-profit organization to combat human trafficking, creators of a board game, members of one of our Robotics teams that made it to the Super National Regionals, an entrepreneur who owns her own jewelry business, a speaker at our TEDx Youth Program who shared her journey with having a learning difference, and a co-founder of a dog recue and adoption business that has helped over 300 dogs find happy homes.
  • Clay Club members who set records with helping encourage people to make over 900 bowls for the “Empty Bowls Program,” and students who set record numbers in participation and money raised for both the secondary and collegiate levels for a Relay for Life program.
  • Models, performers in local theaters, and a fisherman of national note.  Even a student who had the grit to play the entire boys’ basketball season with a torn ACL is in this class.
  • A student who sought out a research experience at George Mason University and produced an extremely impressive paper entitled, “ The effects of NMDA Receptor Domain Alteration on Learning and Memory in Juveniles.”
  • There were also seven students who have been with us since JK, and nine who joined us in Kindergarten.
  • Students who led the way for the 23rd consecutive year for Flint Hill’s Latin Program, to receive the “Beta Prize” as the top Latin Program in the State of Virginia
  • Within this class there were 19 students who received merit scholarships to major art institutes and 15 students who will play college sports, 10 at “Division I” level.
  • Athletically this is a group who soared this year with five Conference Championships, nine teams qualified for State Tournaments, and five students were three-sport athletes.  In fact, 14 of our Seniors were named to the prestigious Washington Post All-Met list this year.

But above all, this was a class of character.  The leadership they demonstrated on Opening Day, greeting new and returning students alike with smiles, hugs, candy and music, all set the tone for a very positive, engaging year.  This demonstrated that we were unified as an Upper School, supportive of each other as we work hard, and clearly really to make a difference.

Through their Senior Projects, this class engaged with major industries, banks, law firms, schools, and medical facilities, to name just a few places where they interned. This is also the first class in Flint Hill’s history that had 100% participation in donations to the Annual Fund.

This is also a Class who left lots of sound advice for the underclassmen.  Whether it was at Senior Day or at other various moments, they were thoughtful, respectful, compassionate, honest and always responsible.  There was far too much to share here, but several tidbits were:

  • “Never expect anything you don’t work for.”
  • “Find your passion and stick to it.”
  • “Some things can’t be explained; they just have to be felt.”
  • “I wish I have one more day here.”

This class is going to go off to some amazing colleges and universities; 191 different schools around the world accepted them.  Two will be serving their country since one Senior is attending the United States Naval Academy, and another will join the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech. A number of students this year were interested in “Ivy League” schools.  While we talk about being a “process” school and not focusing on the particular name or program, we do help our students who want to get to Ivy’s, get there.  The national acceptance rate this year for students applying to Ivy League schools happened to be at 8.9%.  For our Flint Hill students applying to the Ivy’s, it was 20%.  In fact, academic, athletic, and artistic merit scholarships offered to this class, reached a cumulative four-year award of $4,031,430.  And as Huskies, we know that it all takes everyone’s efforts from parents, faculty and staff, and trustees alike, to help our students reach their amazing potential. There is a passion, a momentum, and a strong sense of confidence in our students that is exciting to see.

I noted at the very beginning of the ceremony that I walked into the library recently and saw a poem by Maya Angelou that someone had written on the marker board.  The library was empty.  No one was there.  As I stopped to read the poem, I suddenly thought of our Senior Class.  Maya Angelou’s words touched my heart and spoke not just to this class, but also to all of us.  This should be the way we consider living our lives.  Very simply, it read:

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style”

And this class had style.  They were scholars, artists, singers, athletes, dancers, musicians, writers and above all, leaders.  We admired them so much and we will miss them a great deal.  I sincerely hope that the world is ready for them, because I sure know, that they are ready for whatever will come next.  To gain an even more direct sense of who they are, here is a link to a video about their class  Our school “YouTube” channel has a series of interviews with Seniors that you might enjoy as well

Best wishes to all of you!  Please take time to truly enjoy the summer.  We look forward to getting everyone back in August.


John M. Thomas

P.S.  Commencement was a beautiful affair for sure, so please join me in thanking everyone who helped in same fashion.  From Anne Scherer in Development for her keen research; to Ana Yarbrough, Anne Peterson, and Coach Lwanga for the program; to the Facilities and Housekeeping teams; the Upper School Office; Development Office; Emily Sanderson, Mia Burton, and Julie Young for the robes and gowns; and Maha Morse for the diplomas…and so many more!  To our entire school family – THANK YOU! AND BEST WISHES TO THE CLASS OF 2014!!