Engagement

Last week, we had a group of marketing folks visit Flint Hill, and one of the questions asked to me was, “What words describe what we are looking for in a student at Flint Hill?” A lot of words immediately flashed to mind, but the one that truly gets me is engagement.  I think for students to really be successful, for families to be happy, and for the school to thrive and grow as we all want, engagement in the life of the school is critical. The active participation of people makes all the difference in the world. It is important for the students to find some way that matches their personalities to engage. If they do, then they feel like it is their school. The same can hold true for us as parents.

Just this past weekend, we saw all that played out with various activities going on. As usual, athletic teams had games. Our robotics team, headed by the leadership of Computer Science Teacher Mike Snyder, had earned the opportunity to go to the East Super Regional Championship held in York, Pa., where they competed against robotics teams from throughout the East Coast. This was a huge honor and they performed well! They have been engaging all year long and it has set an exciting standard for the future.

And on Saturday afternoon, Flint Hill held its first International Festival in the Upper School Commons. Nearly 150 people participated in this event; parents and students alike came dressed in traditional clothing from their home countries. Students showcased a variety of performances from singing, playing native instruments, dancing, to even giving a Tae Kwon Do and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu demonstration! In fact, the first acts included an old English ballad, one of the Beatles greatest hits, and beautiful music from India. The whole program ended with a wonderful fashion parade of everyone dressed in typical outfits. Continents from Africa and Asia were well represented. Special thanks go to Fine Arts Director Dr. Tim Mitchell; Dean of Student Affairs Mia Burton; and Lower School Assistant Director Margo Isabel, for helping put that wonderful event together.

In the meantime, on Saturday as well, our Science Department Chair Cyndi Hoffman, led an enormous number of students and faculty and staff members in the “George Mason’s University Relay for Life.”  It is a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, but it is something that Cyndi and a team of nine other faculty and staff members and 87 students, helped bring to life as a service learning opportunity.  And please remember, this is primarily a college event. But Flint Hill had seven teams entered, out of a total of 85 teams at the event.  Nearly 1,100 participants took part in this event and our teams took the first, second, fourth, sixth, seventh, ninth and twelfth places in the entire event! Out of our 87 students who supported the event, 77 attended, and 69 even stayed all night to take part in the “Marathon Relay.”  They raised $36,401 for the American Cancer Society. That is an incredible level of engagement of our school family.

As we look ahead at our calendars, there is always something that draws our attention to activities here at school.  It could be something that your children can participate in or all of us, as a family, can join in.  Here is a short list just to give you an example:

  • Friday, April 11 at 7 p.m.–We have the Grades 5 and 6 play in the Olson Theater.

  • Saturday, April 12–We host one of the largest Special Olympics “Track & Field” meets in this area of the country.  The event will be held on the Upper School campus.

  • Saturday, April 12, from 8:00 a.m.-12 p.m.–Our Grade 4 students are leading the Lower School in the first ever “Flint Hill Flea Market” to “Help Stop Hunger.” This event will be held in the back parking lot on the Lower/Middle School campus with all the proceeds going to the food bank.

And looking ahead, there seems to be an endless array of activities as well:

  • April 16 at 6:30 p.m. – 8th Grade Community of Concern – in WC Gym:  All Grade 8 students and their parents are asked to participate in the Community of Concern event. The purpose of this event it to get everyone ready for the pressures and temptations that come, sadly enough, with adolescence and teenage life in the United States.  The focus is on fostering open conversations between parents and students on the crucial issue of the prevention of alcohol and drug use.  Our guest educator working with the 8th grade students all week, Brenda Conlan, will facilitate the evening’s discussion.  If you have not signed up yet, please go here. This is a required event for both students and parents.

  • April 17 at 7:30 p.m.–I strongly urge all of us to participate in the George Mason University Upper School Arts Jam concert. This concert will be held on the Campus of George Mason University in their incredible “Center for the Arts.”  This evening production will be absolutely amazing to witness.  It is for our entire school family.  In fact, I strongly encourage Lower and Middle School families to join together to participate in this amazing experience. You are welcome to bring friends, neighbors, and everyone to witness this performance.  The entire production led by our Upper School performing groups, will include Broadway music, jazz, modern dance, popular songs, classics, and even a host of music from the 007 James Bond’s movies.  It is an opportunity to hear, in the right setting, on a beautiful stage, our percussion, jazz and symphonic bands, our orchestra, the concert choir, the Major Minors – our A Capella singing group, and to watch modern and jazz dancers.  This is a tremendous opportunity to see talented, committed and caring students perform.  Many of us spend a lot of money to buy tickets to go to the Kennedy Center or to see New York productions, but I assure you, those professional venues may not even equal what you will hear next week.    Special thanks go to Fine Arts Director, Dr. Tim Mitchell, and to all the Fine Arts faculty and staff who are helping to make this concert a reality.  But it is the engagement of the 120 students who will be performing on stage that evening, and the engagement of the audience by being there to share and support this wonderful event, what matters most.

Please keep checking the Flint Hill calendar for other opportunities to join us.  The fine arts and athletic departments have the following shows and events currently on display or coming up:

  • Started April 7–Lower and Middle School Visual Art Show (Lower/Middle School campus)

  • Started April 7–Upper School Photo and Digital Art Show (Upper School Library)

  • April 21 at 6:00 p.m.–Upper School Portfolio Show (Upper School Commons)

  • Saturday, April 26–We will be hosting our Springfest. This will be a full day of family related activities filled with games to watch and a chance to cheer on our Huskies.  Again, I encourage engagement and participation.

  • April 28 at 6:00 p.m.–Upper School Ceramics Show (Upper School Library)

  • May 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m.–Upper School Dessert Theater in the Olson Theater

I am the first to talk about how busy we all are and how hard it is to balance work, school, and home life. Yet, it’s important sometimes to make school more than just a place where we “go” to school. Flint Hill works hard to really be a part of our lives; to really make it a place where we can go to watch teams play or to watch beautiful shows and concerts, and above all, to see the fruit of our children’s active participation in their growth and in their learning. So please, join me in engaging in these activities. Bring your families and make it something we all can share together. Regardless of the age of your children, these events give us a window into all that they will be doing at the appropriate time.

Have a great spring. It truly seems to be upon us at last!  I look forward to seeing you soon!

Best wishes to you!