Crossing the Finish Line

Dear Flint Hill School Families,

We are in the final homestretch now. It is amazing to realize that all three Divisions hosted their successful closing ceremonies last week!

It started last Thursday with the Middle School Closing Ceremony and Grade 8 Promotion. The Middle School did something new this year, they took “a meaningful risk,” and combined the traditional Closing Ceremony for Grades 5 – 7 with the Grade 8 Promotion Ceremony. The outcome was a very powerful Middle School closing. It was something to behold. A number of students gave reflections on the highlights of this school year for each of the grades, and to hear the wonderful writeups about the students receiving awards was fun and impressive. And to look at the eighth grade students, 26 of whom started here in Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten, I was encouraged by their level of maturity and growth. That evening, the eighth graders held their annual dance at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. It was a huge success, but also an emotional farewell. Mr. Brian Lamont and his team shared that students did not want to leave the venue that evening, as they knew things would never be quite the same after they moved on to their parents’ waiting cars and their summer adventures.

On Friday morning, the Lower School pulled at our heart strings with a celebration for our youngest Huskies. They are just beginning their educational journey with a goal to make the learning more visible this year, and the Lower School made that a focus of this final event. There were a lot of tears after the program, but those tears reflected a job well done! They demonstrated the emotion of ending a wonderful school year, and the inevitable need to say goodbye to teachers and friends who may not be back next year. Fourth grade did an incredible job sharing their insights, thoughts and reflections as they got ready to transition to the Middle School. Sixty-four percent of the Fourth Grade started at Flint Hill in Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten! Their ongoing commitment to Flint Hill is a model for classes to come.

Friday morning ended with the Upper School Closing Ceremony, which featured incredible musical talent and a great video, highlighting yearlong events and accomplishments. The main focus, however, was an inspiring list of awards and honors for our remarkable students.

Each event gave us a chance to recognize and thank those families who are leaving the school for a number of reasons. And this week, we acknowledge and thank the faculty and staff who are leaving us, particularly Bill Ennist, who has served as the Assistant Head of School for Academics for the past several years and who is moving on to his own headship, and Middle School teacher Adrianne Gaal, who is retiring after 15 years here at Flint Hill.

The only students technically left in the building now are the members of the Class of 2016, who will celebrate Commencement this Friday, June 10, at 10:00 am. They are a class of 133 strong students, who have been a calm and confident source of strength, integrity and leadership throughout the year. They are a class that is diverse, hard working, positive, sincere and compassionate. They take pride in the unity that they have developed as a class end the leadership they have demonstrated.

This past Monday night, Commencement Week officially started. This is a week filled with everything from a Headmaster’s Senior Dinner, to the Prom, a Preunion – to get ready for becoming alumni – and even several rehearsals to make certain that their Commencement goes smoothly and effectively.

The Headmaster’s Senior Dinner on Monday night provided an opportunity for our Seniors to reunite with their classmates after several weeks away from School. Over the past month, between juggling exams (AP for many), our Seniors have been completing their Senior Projects, a very intensive program that allows them to intern with different companies and programs in the area. They work for 80 plus hours and have to keep a journal outlining what they accomplish each and every day. Finally, they turn that in, along with a final report that provides a reflection on all that they have learned from this intensive experience. The final step is to stand before a committee of faculty and staff to make a presentation and answer questions afterwards. It is a powerful conclusion to their Flint Hill experience. Seniors worked on a whole host of programs this year. They worked in all types of firms and businesses from Northrop Grumman, The Architectural Design Studio, Medical Concierge Network, NOVA Cardiology, The Wounded Warrior Project, the Down Syndrome Association, and numerous Fairfax County offices. Students were exposed to sales, marketing, finance, new home construction, pastry making, homeless kitchens, database responsibilities, environmental engineering, engineering research, and even worked on illustrations for a children’s book! It is fascinating when you see all that they had done. During our dinner on Monday night, 20 Seniors were awarded honors for their projects. Here is a link to give you a sense of who those great students are, who they worked for and what was involved in their programs.

And on Friday they will graduate. Commencement is a major milestone in their lives. It is part tradition, part ritual and part ceremonial, but all personal and celebratory! Our Commencement speaker this year is our own alumna, Katie Blaszak ’01. She will share her words of wisdom and advice for the future graduates. Katie was an outstanding scholar-athlete in her own right at Flint Hill and in college, and is now a local attorney. She is also the author of our Flint Hill History Book, and someone who truly carries the Driving Spirit.

If you want to join us on Friday, you are welcome to do so. We expect a packed house and it will be exciting to witness this great moment in our Seniors’ educational journeys.

 

Best wishes to you!

Sincerely,

 

John M. Thomas
Headmaster