New Season, New Beginnings

Dear Flint Hill School Families,

I hope each and every one of you had a tremendous Spring Break and were able to accomplish whatever it was that you had hoped to do during that time. It is nice to see that the weather is actually beginning to turn a bit warmer as we all come back.

Spring always brings to mind the concept of new beginnings and a time to get active once again. It is clearly an exciting time here at School, and as we charge full steam ahead to complete this exciting year, we are already beginning to look ahead to next School year. A critical piece of our future planning is to review our attrition numbers – the percentage of families who do not plan to return to the School – and the new families who will be joining us. I am very pleased to report that our attrition rate for the 2015-2016 academic year currently stands at 3.1%.  That means our retention rate for families who plan to return is 96.9% – an unbelievable number! In the Upper School, in fact, the attrition rate is below 1%.  This gives us a tremendous foundation as we look ahead to next year. For greater context, a “healthy” attrition figure for a strong independent school is usually 10-15%. We should all be proud of our numbers here. It speaks to the hard work of our entire community to make this School family a positive and engaging experience. Thank you!

At the same time, our Admission Office has been working tirelessly throughout the year to introduce prospective families to our great School. At the moment, we have enrolled nearly 110 new families who will be joining us next year. If you meet or hear from any of these folks that they will soon be Huskies, please join us in welcoming them to our School family and helping make them feel excited and comfortable about this next adventure in their lives and in the education of their children. We will host a number of events throughout the Spring to welcome them to make certain their transition is smooth and seamless. And if you see any of the members of the Admission Office, please thank them for leading the way. Let’s never lose sight of the fact that each and every one of us is part of the Admission team, but our great Admission Office really demonstrated their commitment, drive and spirit throughout the year to organize events, answer questions, meet with families and do everything possible to make the application and admission experience personal and meaningful. Our new students bring an exciting array of talents with them and will help build on the sense of momentum that is such a part of our overall atmosphere. Our traditional “feeder schools” were especially supportive and responsive this year.

Meanwhile, if you know of any families who suddenly express interest, please don’t ever hesitate to have them contact the School. We are always looking for great children with wonderful talents who want to be a part of our community. The interest in the Upper School has been nearly overwhelming and it is still going strong. Throughout the School, at nearly every grade level, we continue to be contacted by people who are extremely interested in joining Flint Hill for next year. The Admission Office remains open to accepting applications for grades where we still have openings, so please don’t ever hesitate to encourage people to join us. All in all, this has been an exceptional Admissions cycle.

And just as there are new beginnings, we are always reminded of the passing of seasons.  As one season begins, another ends. I shared with our alumni this week that Glenn Rounsevell, a gentleman who holds a significant position in our School’s history, passed away last weekend. Mr. Rounsevell was a fascinating man who was a pilot in the European Theatre during World War II. He became a member of the Foreign Service, and in fact, he was one of the last people evacuated from the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War, as he worked to save the lives of his staff. He also was an entrepreneur and inventor. For a period of time, in the late 1970s – 1980s, he was the sole proprietor of Flint Hill Preparatory School. It was under his leadership that the Lower and Middle School Campus property was purchased, the Miller House was moved down Chain Bridge Road to its current location, construction for the Academic Building was planned and the basketball program grew to national prominence.  It was Glenn, in fact, who made the transition of the School to the leadership of Til Hazel, which led to our School’s reorganization. We should all keep Glenn and his entire family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.  I know that he was very proud of the Flint Hill of today and would be thrilled to know of our retention rate and the amazing quality of the new families that will be joining us.

Enjoy the weather! Enjoy the Spring! And as we all look ahead, please mark your calendars for some very exciting events ahead for our entire School family. The Arts Jam Concert held annually at George Mason University is on Wednesday April 15 at 7:30 p.m. It will feature the Upper School Band, Chorus, Dance, Orchestra, Percussion and the Major Minors. It is an incredible performance and a great time for students and families to come to one of the best musical productions you will ever attend. It is free and open to the public, so please share the date with your friends, neighbors and colleagues. It is also a “no homework” night for all grade levels to encourage attendance. Many Lower School families who have joined us in the past with plans to stay until intermission,  ended up remaining for the entire show! Last year, nearly 1,000 people filled the GMU Concert Hall for this performance. Please make plans to join us this year.

And don’t forget that Springfest is scheduled for Saturday, April 25, with games, food, a 5K Fun Run, children’s activities and much more. Please come and spend a beautiful Saturday with your School family. And on Friday, May 8, we will host our annual Grandparents and Special Friends Day! This is always an exciting day in the Lower and Middle Schools.  It is a special treat and one that the students appreciate as they get an opportunity to share all they are doing.

Together we are going to make this the most exciting end to a School year. I look forward to seeing you soon at as many events as you can attend!

Best wishes to you!

Sincerely,

John M. Thomas

Headmaster