May 29, 2019

Dear Flint Hill School Families,

I hope everyone enjoyed their Memorial Day weekend. So often, when we think of Memorial Day weekend we think about the extra day off, the start of summer and the opening of pools. For many, it is a weekend of relaxation, store sales, and a chance to display the American flag in all its glory. But sadly, there is little meaningful discussion about its original purpose. The whole concept of Memorial Day is to honor the service, sacrifice and commitment of those brave individuals who lost their lives to secure our freedoms in the past. It is certainly a time to celebrate, but more importantly, it is a moment for somber, serious reflection. I hope we as a school family can practice reflecting not only on those individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice, but on their families, and the gratitude we feel for all that they did for us.

While I love the “holiday” aspect of the weekend, I always take a moment during Memorial Day weekend to think about my father’s service in World War II. He was sent to the battlefield in Europe as a 19-year-old. Before he became an American citizen, my wife Emily’s father served in the Dutch Army, fighting Nazis and trying to preserve the integrity of his nation. While both of our fathers survived the war, I use this weekend to honor them as veterans. And I also stop to remember the one person in my family who died serving our country. My uncle Frank Steritz was a pilot who was killed in action during World War II. I never ever met him, but I grew up hearing stories about him, and always knew he was a hero in our family. I feel proud that we have a national holiday that gives us a time to cherish his memory and honor his sacrifice.

As we move through this week, we have our own ceremonies and moments of reflection, where we will honor service throughout the year, hard work, and dedication. It is far different, but still a key moment in our school year. I have said many times before that this year has felt from the beginning like we came “out of the blocks” at a full sprint. This week for many, marks “the breaking of the tape,” that opportunity to finally reach the finish line.

While we get ready to bring this year to a close, this time gives us a moment to reflect on the year, and I hope you will do that with your children. Use these closing events as markers. Life is a series of such events; like snapshots in a photo album. They give us a chance to mark the turning of a page in our lives and theirs. Here are some questions you might consider asking your kids at some point this week or in the summer months that will follow:

  • What were your best moments of this past year?
  • What were some of your hardest moments this year? How did you deal with them? What did you learn in the process?
  • What did you learn that you didn’t know before this year?
  • How are you different now than you were at the start of the school year?
  • What are you looking forward to next year after you have time to get your energy back and begin to prepare for the next step in your journey?

Summer is about time away, changing our focus and getting new experiences. It is also an excellent opportunity for us to spend some time with our children, and in our case, our grandchildren. Use that time wisely. Realize that schedules will be different, and the experiences will be new as you are given the opportunity to have more time with your kids than you do during the school year. And consider answering some of those questions yourselves. When we make that time to connect with our kids, it shouldn’t feel like a job interview, but a true conversation that is open, honest, direct, personal, and meaningful. It is far too easy to slide into interview mode. We want to really get to know them and they really need to get to know us!

Just as we reflect on those who lost their lives serving our country over the Memorial Day weekend, the closings give us a chance to reflect on the challenges we faced and the opportunities we were given, all for the sake of making this a tremendous school year.

If I can be helpful in any way further, please don’t hesitate to call on me.

Best wishes to you!

Sincerely,

John M. Thomas
Headmaster