Dear Flint Hill School Families,
Sometimes at Flint Hill, we talk about metrics and the importance of seeing outcomes for all that we are trying to accomplish as a school. While we are in a “people’s business,” there are times we look for data or specific moments that signify that we have met our own conceived goals and that we are moving in the right direction. It is a sound business practice and essential to helping us keep track of our program. Over the past few days, we had three significant moments worthy of noting as indicators of our strong healthy, vibrant and transformational school. I share this humbly, but we do need to know the impact these moments had for us. One received a great deal of attention, one flew a bit under the radar and one occurred just as I was writing this message. All of them are significant evidence of how our school family is growing and evolving in healthy and positive ways.
First and foremost was Thursday’s Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Peterson Middle School. The entire ceremony may have taken under 20 minutes, but in attendance were dignitaries from Fairfax County, representatives from a number of firms and agencies that are working on this project, folks who helped us get construction approval from the County, and a myriad of parents, faculty, alumni, and others who had an interest in this process. There were also a number of donors and Trustees who were present. Above all, we were honored that members of the Peterson family were able to attend and hear first hand of our respect and deep gratitude for their incredible lead gift. And what made this moment particularly special was the fact that it served as an informal all-school gathering — the entire Lower and Middle Schools were present in addition to a number of Upper School students. If you haven’t seen pictures from that morning, here is a link. As they arrived, students were given hard hats to wear. There were also squishy mini hard hats that everyone used to throw up in the air and scream “Go Huskies!” at the end of the celebration.
While a select group of folks was asked to come up to represent everyone who contributed to the Momentum campaign, the entire community was a part of this day. Everyone put a shovel in that soil. Everyone made a difference. That is part of the coming of age of our great school, which, in under 100 days, was able to raise the most money in its history at one time. This effort is the conclusion of hard work, creative fundraising, determination, energy, leadership, philanthropy, generosity, and above all, respect for our great teachers and the program that has been developed here. It is a moment that everyone should take pride in.
As part of that ceremony, sixth-grader Lillian Burns gave an address to the attendees. Standing tall at the podium, proudly wearing her hard hat, Lillian reminded all of us about the importance of gratitude and vision. Here is a link to the live stream from the event, where you can hear her tremendous speech. And when you see anyone from the Advancement Team and the Marketing and Communications Office, please thank them for all they did to make this possible. They brought our communications and fundraising to an exciting new level!
The second event occurred on Saturday. Director of Diversity and Inclusion Mia Burton developed programming for an event called “The Community of Care: The Flint Hill Vision.” This event allowed us to talk about how all of us understand and experience our vision: “Take meaningful risks. Be yourself. Make a difference.” Nearly 65 people came out on Saturday, including a large number of Upper School students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff and administrators. It was a day devoted to listening, talking and sharing. It was a day meant to be for us individually to share experiences we may have had in the past and to discuss what roles can we play to make our school family more responsive, open, honest and direct in helping each other meet our vision as a school.
We kicked off the morning with a keynote speaker, Alicia Waller ’05. Alicia has gone on to have an incredible musical career as an inspirational singer and has used music as a way to help others deal with issues of diversity and inclusion and to inspire others to come together through her music. She gave a truly inspiring talk. Here is a link to her comments. Her openness, authenticity and directness, opened the door for everyone who attended the event to explore themselves further and to be as open and genuine as possible as the day went on. In the afternoon, there was a panel discussion with a host of members of our school family that helped inspire a Q & A and an open dialogue that went well beyond the planned closure of the event. It was evident that this event was something our community wanted and needed. Some of the discussions were challenging, some were uncomfortable, but all of them were beneficial to everyone who was there. Empathy became a dominant, emotional trait throughout the day. And at times, we realized that we were not alone and that we could do this hard work of taking those risks, being ourselves and making a difference together.
The third “moment” I’d like to mention is that just today, the Second Grade achieved 100% participation in the Annual Fund. For the first time ever, we are able to celebrate that there are now two grades with this extraordinary level of dedication and commitment to our great school! Thank you to all the families who have given. Always remember, we are Huskies, and if we are to live up to that mascot, we have to do it as a team.
Flint Hill is clearly committed to continuing to grow as a school family and community. We are focused on our people and healthy relationships, and we are determined to keep the sense of momentum that absolutely propels our school.
Thank you to everyone who is a part of our “school family.” The interactions and connectedness among all of us truly bring this great experience to life. Enjoy this beautiful weather! Appreciate the fact that we are working hard to be as relevant and as dynamic as possible. I look forward to our future with pride, determination and shared commitment.
Best wishes to you!
John M. Thomas