Dear Flint Hill School Families,
When you became a parent, did you begin to notice how quickly your lifestyle changed? Maybe you didn’t go out as much. You certainly didn’t sleep much. Have you noticed that there are differences among your peers? Have you ever been accused of being one of the strictest parents or told how “cool” some other parents are…with implication that you are not? The answer to these questions really reflect the reality that we are all different on so many levels. And differences are a natural part of life. We see it very clearly if we have more than one child at home; each child is different. Our children may come from the same parents, same house, the same rules and approach, but they can act and develop very differently. It is a fascinating part of the human condition. Our differences define us and enrich our personalities, attitudes and drive for life.
This week, we are celebrating International Week in all three divisions, a tradition that honors the rich diversity among our families. At Flint Hill, we are fortunate enough to have many nationalities represented in our community ― the walls of flags on both campuses are a brilliant testament to that. This event allows us the chance to celebrate the ethnic heritages and cultures in our school family from all over the globe, while also recognizing that ultimately, we are all Flint Hill Huskies. In fact, the theme in the Lower School this year is “We Are One.”
As we talk about these differences, we can also see that the concepts of difference and diversity go far beyond nationality. We have students, parents, faculty and staff from different continents, countries and cultures for sure. But we also have different backgrounds, races, religions, political beliefs, socioeconomic statuses, ages and sizes, just to mention a few! Many of us speak a second language. It is a quiet gift that we offer at a great school like ours, especially in terms of the international breakdown. I know that sometimes, when our children visit their friends, they may hear different languages being spoken, they may see different customs being practiced, and they may participate in different holidays that hold great importance for their hosts. My wife Emily comes from a Dutch family. And it was for my own defense that I had to learn some Dutch. Whenever I would enter her parents home when we were dating, and even after we got married, they would all speak Dutch. And yet, we all knew that we were all part of one family. The same holds true here at Flint Hill. While we all come with differences that define our own identities, we are one school family.
There have been times when I have heard people express a concern that the concept of being different may separate and segregate us, or it may make it less likely for us to come together. Personally, I think that much of that comes back to how we approach each difference and the joy we find in recognizing and honoring the unique qualities within each of us with a sense of appreciation. How many of us celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in March without having an Irish background? Have you noticed that in practically every large city, there are neighborhoods called “Little Italy” or “Chinatown?” We may make a point to visit, to have a great meal or enjoy some of the cultural aspects within those communities. We must embrace opportunities to learn from each other, and as parents, we have to keep modeling and teaching this concept.
International Week has been part of life at Flint Hill for many years. In fact, a former faculty member recently gave me the “1995 Third Grade International Cookbook” to add to our archives. She was cleaning her attic and came across this wonderful book, full of recipes donated by families who came from 22 different countries. Today, we celebrate International Week with a variety of events taking place that your children may talk about when they come home. We are hosting a variety of activities at Town Meetings and international meals in the cafeteria. Many of our students in the Lower School are wearing international clothing, and parents are speaking about their backgrounds and cultures in their countries of origin.
This Saturday, March 4, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., I hope you will join us for a revitalization of our International Festival in the Upper School Campus Commons. We will have demonstrations representing various cultures, a parade of nations, a guest musician, delicious food and a whole host of fun activities from all over the world. Please take time this week with your children to share some of the stories of your own families and how we all arrived right here in Northern Virginia at this point in time. Above all, I hope you will join us on Saturday afternoon, as a great number of people including our Director of Diversity and Inclusion Mia Burton, Parent-Volunteer Alysia Dempsey, and many other parent-volunteers have stepped forward to give us this great opportunity to come together as a school family.
Have a great rest of the week! I look forward to see everyone on Saturday. GO HUSKIES!!
Best wishes to you!
John M. Thomas