February 13, 2019

Dear Flint Hill School Families,

In the midst of all the rain, wintry mix, cold, and wind that has been hanging over us for a while, this week showed, once again, the great path that we are on as a school. We spent a great deal of time in the fall celebrating three state championships and all that we accomplished in athletics. We shared the news of students who have had outstanding performances in the arts, in district choirs, orchestras, etc. This week we learned that one of our Cyber Patriot teams finished the season in the top 4 percent in the nation. We were able to recognize the nine varsity football players who earned all-state honors — the highest total for one school ever. At Winterfest, we shared that the Boys’ Swim and Dive team won its conference championship. And to top it off, last weekend, our Boys’ Rock Climbing team won their first championship ever! All of these accomplishments don’t happen by accident. People have worked hard. Students, teachers, and coaches have given their all. Students have practiced consistently, constantly, and done everything possible to make it happen. Our faculty, staff and coaches have been there to guide, mentor, nurture, support and cheer them on. It is a true team effort!

Would you believe that sometimes we are criticized for these successes? Would you be surprised to know that sometimes we have been told that our players in various sports play “too hard” or that they are “too good?” And in the academic field, as our successes shine, people in other schools or venues are confused about how that was possible when “you are a school that has a nationally recognized Learning Center resource available.” Somehow, they can’t compute that all of it can work well together if there are the right people in place, a passion for what we can and should do, and it is all done with purpose. And in fact, our goal here has always been to have a relentless drive for excellence, and that takes a determined and consistent effort on everyone’s part. And it can be done without people feeling like is a “pressure cooker” or an overwhelming place to be. We certainly don’t want mediocrity. In our personal lives, we would never go to a doctor who is just average or have someone prepare our taxes or handle our financial planning who we didn’t feel was at the top of their game.

So how do we teach our children to achieve those successes without being in that “pressure cooker? How do we make sure that they can achieve greatness in ways that are effective but not overpowering emotionally or causing undue stress and pressure?  Here are a few things we can all try to promote with our children.

  • Do your best. Let’s not ask for a particular grade, a championship or a title in any way. There can be goals, but it doesn’t mean we have failed if we sometimes hit some adversity. Do your best should be our focus. And if enormous success comes with that, it is the icing on the cake. I was a track coach for many years and ran track in high school and college. Part of the beauty of track was that, in many cases, you were competing against yourself constantly to do your best. You always wanted a better time or a better throw. Whatever it may be, music, art, classroom work, or athletics, that’s what we want our children to do. Keep working hard. Keep trying to do your best.
  • Engage. They need to own their learning in the classroom, on the courts, fields, and in the studios. They need to be willing to put themselves into whatever is before them. They need to “own” whatever they are doing. They need to be able to risk not doing as well as they may want to do or what others may think they can do; but by engaging, they will continue to learn, grow, and hopefully develop the passion and a set of skills that they will be able to carry with them into life.
  • Be humble, but take pride in what they accomplish. One of the beauties of Flint Hill students is their good sportsmanship and their ability to be humble about all that they achieve. But at the same time, I want them proud of what they have done and what our great school is doing. They have earned that. They have made this happen. And it is simply a matter of us helping them develop that trait that ultimately leads to confidence, not bragging or in-your-face kind of behavior, but a steady, determined focus, a drive to do their best, and to be very much a part of the game, whatever that may be. And to be part of something far bigger than themselves at times. We also need to help them to make certain that everything is kept in balance. We want our students to have a healthy, confident, and proactive approach to everything they are doing. And as parents, we need to be guides and facilitators to help nurture that along the way.

Congratulations on all that is happening here at school, because you as parents are very much a part of that! When we say “team,” it is not just students and faculty we talk about; parents are very much a part of this process. Together, there are amazing mountains that are being climbed and tremendous achievements that are being reached. Let’s continue the hard work and the Driving Spirit that is such a part of our great school. I always tell students in the Middle and Upper Schools to take responsibility for themselves and for each other. If we do that as a school family, we will certainly accomplish everything in our hopes and dreams. We will have done our best for ourselves and for each other. And please join me in congratulating and thanking everyone for all that they are accomplishing!!! We are proud of everyone fortunate enough to be a Husky!

 

Best wishes to you,

Sincerely,

John M. Thomas
Headmaster