Generations of Learning

Dear Flint Hill Families,

Over the weekend, I couldn’t stop thinking about Grandparents and Special Friends Day! There are many things that happen at Flint Hill that are very special, unique and clearly demonstrate the strong, personal bond shared by students, teachers and every member of our school family. This was evident throughout the day on Friday, and I wish everyone had been able to see it.

The day was scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m., but grandparents and family friends began to arrive much earlier. Some drove and walked in, some came hand-in-hand with their grandchildren and some were “dropped off” by their students during morning carpool. It was a wonderful reversal of roles to watch. As they came up the steps to the Activity Center, many of them greeted me not just with their names, but with the names of their students. The start of an exciting morning was just under way. Special thanks needs to go to Tina Rafalovich and the amazing group of parent volunteers who helped make that morning reception so special. Director of Parent Relations Tiffany Parry, the Development Office, and the Facilities Team also deserve a huge round of applause from all of us. They all made it possible for grandparents and special friends, who came from far and wide, to feel welcomed and appreciated as they sat down among the balloons and beautifully decorated tables to share with each other the excitement and the opportunity to see children they love at school. The musical performances given by the students were outstanding and clearly set the stage as an example of the experiences our young Huskies have every day.

When our guests eventually moved to the classrooms, the spontaneous hugs and smiles that occurred will always stay in my mind, as well as the looks of concern from some students as they anxiously searched the room for their grandparents and friends.  All of it speaks to that very special bond. As I toured the classrooms, it was exciting to see all the different activities that grandparents, friends and students were taking part in together. For example, a Fourth Grade class was conducting interviews with grandparents, asking a wide range of questions from their own experiences as children in school to the prices they paid for everyday items such as candy bars, movie tickets and paperback books. Grandparents and friends also participated in a “Generation Quiz,” which had a variety of questions that ranged from naming cartoon and superhero characters, to identifying leaders, athletes and politicians from a different time. Other groups had to name objects such as typewriters and Google glasses and discussed the meaning of words like “jalopy,” “wiseacre,” “hashtag,” and “bad egg.” In a Latin class, students and their guests played “Battleship” using Latin.

Many classes used technology to showcase the students’ skills. In fact, in one class, the students created websites with their grandparents and special friends, and some Lower School students shared the slideshows from their Student-Involved Conferences.

There were also a lot of math and science activities, and in some cases, grandparents and friends were pushed to their limits. In a Middle School science class, students, grandparents and friends wore blue latex gloves and wielded scalpels to participate in a chicken dissection. As I stood and watched for a few minutes, one grandmother whispered to me, “I didn’t want to tell them this, but I do this all the time to make dinner without wearing gloves!” Another class was working on creating a city where they had to plan the size of buildings and name them, expanding their understanding of depth, volume and geometry, and working with parallel and perpendicular streets. I watched with amusement as the students named their buildings after popular businesses like Giant, McDonald’s, Barnes & Noble and even a Longhorn Steakhouse.

It was fun to watch the joy in the faces of our students’ grandparents and special friends. You could almost sense that they were seeing their own children (our Flint Hill parents) reflected in their grandchildren, finding similarities that go across generations.  And the grandparents were amazed by what they were seeing in the classrooms. A First Grade class shared Stop Motion movies they created using Claymation, and as I was strolling down the halls, I suddenly saw a fourth-grader sitting down in the hall with her iPad in her lap. I stopped to make sure she was okay, only to find that she was FaceTiming with her grandparents in Phoenix, Arizona. There they were on the screen, enjoying the moment to talk with their wonderful granddaughter. I had the opportunity to meet her grandparents, and to learn that it was 7:45 a.m. in Arizona and already 65 degrees. Her grandmother said, “We are so sorry we can’t be there.” I had to interrupt and say, “Oh no!  Don’t be sorry because you are here. I’m here talking with you and you are very much a part of everything we are doing today!!”

We always talk about being a school family and a team. Grandparents and Special Friends Day brings all of that into focus. Whether grandparents were here, in Phoenix, or in other parts around the world thinking about their grandchildren, that bond will be there forever. Days like this prove one more time, that this is very much a part of who we are as a school community. All of Friday’s excitement was a fitting transition into Mother’s Day weekend, and we all know how significant our mothers are in our lives.

So thank you to everyone who participated, who helped us make this a special day, and who I’m sure spent time on Sunday celebrating mothers and the special role they play in our lives and here at our great school. Have another great week ahead! Keep checking the calendar and newsletters for any upcoming events: concerts, “Family Fun Day” on Saturday on the Lower School Campus, and — before we know it — School Closing Ceremonies!!! Hang on — the school year is racing to another successful conclusion!!
Best wishes to you!

Sincerely,

John M. Thomas
Headmaster