November 2, 2016

Dear Flint Hill School Families,

As we reach this period in early November, our thoughts head to the beautiful fall that is beginning to evolve. We also move to the end of the first quarter, and it is at this point in the year that we also gain a clear sense that we are now well into a very exciting and productive school year. At the same time, there has been a very unique undercurrent for this year. We are rapidly nearing the end of what has been one of the most exhausting and emotionally trying election cycles many of us can remember. Regardless of one’s party affiliation, this has been a stressful and upsetting campaign. The tone of this current election is very different.

In last week’s newsletter, the Division Directors shared advice and links to various topics that you may want to consider using at home. They are shared again this week. I have had a number of parents tell me that they don’t talk about the election at home any longer. They are speechless about what they could or should say. Concerns about language, name calling, honesty, and the potential impact that it can all have on their children, have forced them to go silent. In my own Psychology class, a call for students to talk about the psychological impacts of the election was met with an uncharacteristic silence. The fear that speaking out would result in an argument and hurt feelings was simply too great.

Historically, we are a nation that has thrived on what I have always called creative friction. It is the ability to agree to disagree. It is an opportunity to recognize that there are always two sides to every argument, and that by listening to one another, we can engage in better, more respectful conversations. Maslow, in his theory of motivation and needs, called it self-actualization — the ability to value and appreciate differences without losing respect for those differences.

In anticipation of Election Day next week, we know that we will continue to be bombarded in the news with an even more heightened level of rhetoric. As with anything we do, we should fall back on our four core values of honesty, respect, responsibility, and compassion. And as we try to frame this process for our children at every age level, let’s keep the following points in mind as we prepare to go into the voting booth:

  • Value the system. There may be plenty to criticize in how we govern and what we accomplish, but all-in-all, ours is a system that allows each and every person a right to vote — the huge opportunity to participate. It is our role to truly make a difference. Our children need to know that we are going to vote and that we are going to make certain that our voices will be heard. They also need to know that when they are old enough, they can and should take advantage of that same opportunity. People have worked, sacrificed, fought and died to give us this right, and we need to take full advantage of it.
  • As this election comes to an end, let’s talk about civility. Let’s remember the importance of manners and respect. Refuse to tolerate name calling and disrespect. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but opinions can be expressed respectfully, openly and honestly. We deserve that kind of leadership and should model that behavior for our children.
  • Let’s work together for the sake of our country. Our country is known as the land of opportunity and freedom. Our next president will not serve a single person or political party. Whoever wins is going to be our president, and we need to be prepared to support that individual as we go forward. We all know that this person will be have to work with Congress and will represent all of us as our government works to make our lives better and our country stronger and more cohesive. We will all need to get behind those efforts in whatever avenues open up for our positive and productive engagement.
  • Let’s commit to getting our own children to focus on leadership. We need good, sound leaders coming up through our educational system. We need people who are willing to step into public service for all the right reasons. And I can think of no better group to serve in those roles in our local communities, our nation, or the world than our own Huskies. Talk about taking meaningful risks, being yourself and making a difference. It doesn’t get any bigger than this. But we need our leaders to be ethical, thoughtful, poised, confident, and competent. We need today’s Huskies to step forward in tomorrow’s world. There is a famous saying, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Let’s create those leaders together!

Again, thank you for everything you have done so far this year to continue to make our school strong and viable. Please be sure to vote next Tuesday, and I look forward to all of us continuing to make this year one of the most exciting school years ever.

Best wishes to you!

Sincerely,


John M. Thomas
Headmaster