Dear Flint Hill School Families,
Last week’s Founder’s Day was an incredibly emotional moment for everyone. It was exciting to recognize all the teachers and staff who have given so many years of their lives and careers to Flint Hill, in particular the two folks who reached the 20-year mark this year — Tracy Peterson and Larry Brooks. And it was especially rewarding to surprise Fred Atwood and recognize him for the incredible contributions he has made to our great School during his 30 years here. We shared a short video with him and a memory book, where a number of people from throughout his career had written and posted best wishes to him. Then we honored this year’s Driving Spirit Award winners: Lower School Technology and Instruction Specialist and Lower/Middle School Innovation Teacher Jess Henry; Middle School History Teacher Katie Knicely; Copy Center and Printer Services Coordinator and Head Varsity Climbing Coach Lwanga Namulanda; and Building Engineer Dom Vo. The response from students was overwhelming and brought tears to many of us in the room.
While Founder’s Day gives us a chance to recognize the adults in our community and all that they bring to our students every day, we also know that our students deserve recognition for their accomplishments. We try to share these in this newsletter, at coffees, in our magazine and on our social media channels, and I shared a few in my letter last week. I’d like to share a few more with you from the past few weeks:
- A number of students have had Cappies reviews of local high school performances published in local newspapers. These students take the time to attend each of these shows and then hone their writing skills by crafting incredibly impressive reviews.
- In the fall, we had enormous success in a worldwide math modeling contest with one team ranked in the top 22% of the world. Last weekend, a team of three students spent four days in the ICM/MCM Math Modeling contest working on a problem that required a 20-page written solution.
- A number of our students recently volunteered at the DC Central Kitchen, who is partnering with us for Saturday’s Empty Bowls event at the Upper School. The proceeds from the event will go to the DC Central Kitchen. Volunteering gave our students a chance to work with DCCK’s staff, help prepare food, and serve it to people in need. It helps bring the entire event full circle.
- Last week, a number of our students performed a series of one-act plays in front of an enthusiastic crowd in the Upper School Learning Commons. These are students who took a meaningful risk and had the courage to either create, direct or act in these performances.
- Our Director of Athletics Diana Parente, and a group of other dedicated faculty and staff, led us in celebrating National Girls and Women Sports Day. The celebration was cross-divisional. A number of our student-athletes served as panelists during Lower School Inspiration last week, sharing the impact sports have had on their lives, what they have learned from playing sports, and the impact it will have on their future lives in college next year. For Middle and Upper School students, a professional panel of Flint Hill alumni and a group of sports leaders from throughout the region served on a panel to talk about their experiences. One of the alumni participants currently plays volleyball at George Mason University and the other plays professional soccer.
- And just this past weekend, one of our seniors won the Virginia State Diving Championship, a fitting culmination of an incredible career filled with leadership and hard work that has inspired our swim program to grow and strengthen.
As we look ahead to the coming weeks, there is still a lot to look forward to. This weekend, one of our robotics teams will compete in the FIRST Robotics Virginia State Championship in Mechanicsville, Virginia. The Upper School Science Department will host a Research Symposium next week to showcase independent research projects that are underway with some of our students. If you are available on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., please stop by the Upper School Multipurpose Room to hear from these young scientists.
In March, two teams from Flint Hill will compete against teams from across the U.S. in the M3 Mega Math Modeling Challenge, where they will work on solving a complex math modeling problem under a strict time constraint. And one of our juniors will host a gala and auction for “Champions for Cerebral Palsy,” a club she founded in honor and memory of her aunt, who struggled with cerebral palsy throughout her life. The club has hosted various events here at School, and she is now taking the bold step of hosting a large-scale event off-campus. The leadership and commitment this students has demonstrated both in founding the club and planning this event are remarkable.
The list could go on and on — our students are truly extraordinary. We talk about our students blazing their own trails and discovering their passions, and every day, we see evidence that it’s all happening. That “Driving Spirit” that we recognized last week on Founder’s Day is alive and well among our students, teachers, staff and parents. The impact our students are already having on the world gives us hope for the future and all that we know and believe they will accomplish in the exciting years ahead.
Best wishes to you!
John M. Thomas