June 7, 2017

Dear Flint Hill School Families,

Last week’s closings were exciting to witness. Everyone has worked so hard this year, students and faculty alike. And in all three divisions, the accomplishments are amazing. I always enjoy watching the end of the Lower and Middle School Closing Ceremonies as the Division Directors for the Middle and Upper schools address the Fourth and Eighth Grade classes. They then lead them out of the gym and onto the next step in their educational journey. The symbolism of this moment is very special.

The Upper School Closing Ceremony is always a testament to the clear “college experiences” we offer. So many amazing scholars and leaders were recognized last week. Those youngsters were getting ready to head on now to summer jobs, internships, and for the Seniors, colleges and universities.

This Friday marks our 57th Commencement at Flint Hill. It will be a morning to truly celebrate the Class of 2017, which has led our school in so many ways throughout the year. One hundred twenty-seven Seniors will graduate Friday morning. They were born in nine countries, ten states and the District of Columbia. Within the class, there is a set of triplets, a set of twins and two other students who have twins who attend other schools. Nearly 45% of the class are the youngest in their families, and more than 50% of them joined us in the Upper School. Eight of them attended the Virginia Governor’s Schools last summer. Nine are National Merit Commended students. Two are National Hispanic Recognition Program Award winners. But above all, they are an incredible array of hard working and talented leaders.

In this great class, there are scholars, poets, photographers, equestrians of the highest order, singers, performers, athletes, writers, independent thinkers, sailors, dancers, Girl Scouts and Eagle Scouts. This is a class that is filled with world travelers, a graphic designer of the highest professional order and students who tutor other students. There are journalists, mountain bike racers, aspiring airline pilots and an aspiring novelist who is also writing his first musical.There are students who continue to love the study of Latin and Greek, and there are students who have helped start an enormous number of clubs, organizations and even sports here at school.

Our Seniors have spent their summers attending programs at the Rhode Island School of Design, the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Spanish immersion programs in Spain, and working at Oxford University on international relations, political science and public speaking. Students have taken part in medical research and forums at UCLA, Johns Hopkins Hospital and George Mason University. Some have been on National Geographic Explorer expeditions. Others have attended pre-college programs at an enormous number of colleges and universities.

Five of our Seniors have been here continuously since Junior Kindergarten. Two students left the school briefly and then returned, and we have 18 students who have continuously been here since Kindergarten. As a class, they all have made their mark on our school. In the arts, some of these students led the way at the George Mason University Arts Jam Concert band and represented Flint Hill in the Honor Choir and Senior Regional Orchestra. The Arts Show that recently closed was another spectacular demonstration of the artistic talent among these students.

In athletics, during four years at Flint Hill, members of this class participated on 31 teams that won conferences or tournament championships, and 3 teams won state championships. Sixteen of them will continue to play their sport when they get to college. In fact, we recently were notified that we won the Director’s Cup, which is awarded to one school in our MAC Boys’ League for overall excellence.

One of the highlights of the past few weeks has been to see the students returning from their Senior Projects. That program requires the Seniors to take the month of May away from school to engage in an intensive internship, keeping journals and other materials that get presented to a panel of faculty. Ultimately, they stand before the faculty panel to review their project and what they have gained from it. Over the past few weeks, we have had students working at the Alexandria Sheriff’s Department, the American Bar Association, the Kuwaiti and Peruvian Embassies, in hospitals, doctor’s offices, medical clinics, architectural and engineering firms. Several have been working in Congressional offices as interns. They have been working in soup kitchens, law offices, investment firms, commercial design firms and real estate companies. They have even engaged in dance programs, a number worked at local schools in a variety of roles and many worked in community outreach.

The Class of 2017 is so accomplished, it is impossible to write a comprehensive list. But what I love most about this group is their reflective honesty and genuine authenticity. Whenever they have been given the opportunity to share their insights and their wisdom, they have done it with maturity and grace. Some said, “It is almost undeniable how much better your life is if you treat people well.” “Respect yourself; don’t dwell on negative things,” and “Don’t try to be friends with people who don’t respect you back.” “Everyone has potential. All of us.” “If we go into everything we do with confidence and the knowledge that we are going to kill it and look good in doing it, the ceiling for our potential is endless.” “Seek improvement, have a sense of purpose in life.”  These are all great pieces of advice for everyone.

If you do not have a graduating Senior, I hope you will consider joining us on Friday to help celebrate this wonderful moment in the lives of these great scholars, athletes, artists, leaders and compassionate, ethical citizens. Next week, I will share more about where they are going and what the next step in their journey will be.

Best wishes to you! I hope you have a great week and a great start of your summer.

Sincerely,

 

John M. Thomas
Headmaster