February 26, 2020

Dear Flint Hill School Families,

Have you wanted a snow day at some point during this winter? I know I have. While I fully recognize that those snow days can make for difficult drives and may wreak havoc with childcare issues, they also force us to step back and soak in the beauty of snow-covered yards and the snowflakes coming down from the sky. And if they are used with a sense of calm and acceptance, they give us the gift of time. Even the inability to get around town due to bad weather can serve a positive purpose — it forces us to focus on other things that are right in front of us, like our families. Ultimately, they are the most important thing in our lives.

While the weather may have been mild this winter, it has been an eventful one for me personally. From helping family members in California to managing the volume of activity at school, there have been many instances where I’ve been pushed outside of my comfort zone. I often mention to people that life at Flint Hill is like doing the high jump. I ran track and field in high school and college and had a number of events that I participated in at various times in my career; the high jump was one. And while I finally got over my personal best — in those days, that meant landing in sawdust, not inflated padding — I would get up, brushing off the sawdust and was proud of what I had just accomplished. But as I walked out from under the bar, I watched the official walk over and raise the bar to the next level. It wasn’t that the victory was short-lived, it was that the goal had changed. This is how I see things here at school daily. We are all constantly working on getting over that bar, and each day we raise it just a little bit to keep our tremendous momentum going.

Last weekend gave us a moment to set aside the daily demands of school life to truly bask in our sense of family. We all “cleared the bar” at an awesome height with the 10th anniversary celebration of Empty Bowls, our annual service event to support DC Central Kitchen. The event was beautifully orchestrated by Upper School Ceramics Teacher Julia Cardone and a number of faculty members and students. An enormous number of bowls were created by students from all divisions, parents, teachers and alumni, in addition to t-shirts and bags designed by students and Art Teacher Nikki Brugnoli. The atmosphere was fun and lively with delightful music and photographers all over the place, capturing this beautiful moment. There were many art demonstrations and a whole host of exciting activities. I was stunned to see the number of alumni in attendance, some of which had participated in our very first Empty Bowls 10 years ago. I was pleased to see a large crowd gathering well before the event was scheduled to start, and the traffic continued, as people came and stayed throughout the day.

As I greeted at the door, I saw excited Lower School children, running up the sidewalk, who couldn’t wait to get into the building to find the bowls that they helped make or to be a part of something they knew was going to be big. And the parents, friends and extended family members, who came to partake in this wonderful event, were equally excited — it was something to behold. It was very clear to me that life, while challenging at times, can also be incredibly rewarding. The gathering of our School family on Saturday to support the arts, give back to the community and recognize our young artists was full of camaraderie, joy, appreciation and admiration. And it gave us the time to just be together, which was far more than any snow day could offer!

Thank you to our Director of Fine Arts Dr. Tim Mitchell, Ms. Cardone and everyone who has helped make this special anniversary of Empty Bowls such a tremendous event. And thank you to everyone who was able to take time over the weekend to attend. It was a wonderful moment to see the Flint Hill family in action. In fact, a number of prospective families who were invited by the Admissions Office came and took part in the event as well. I have no doubt that the warm welcome they received will solidify their decision to join us in the future.

Have a great week ahead.

Best wishes to you!

Sincerely,

John M. Thomas
Headmaster