Phenomenal!

Wow!  What a phenomenal Homecoming! From the beautiful weather on Friday night, to the enormous crowd that came out to watch the bonfire, to the very competitive teams and our enthusiastic Huskies on Saturday, it was a weekend to remember.

I spent all day Saturday cheering on our four teams as they played with a level of class, sportsmanship, and skill that we all like to see in our students.  The enthusiasm and the spirit by athletes and fans alike were especially gratifying to witness. I want to thank once again the leadership of Shaza Andersen and her Homecoming committee of great parent-volunteers, Carla Becker and her team who helped organized the food for the weekend, Diane Schuler who painted the Husky paws that led us along the sidewalk toward to the football field, Bridget Montagne and the development office for their support to this great effort, and Lisa Benn and all the parent-volunteers who stepped in to help at different activities.  Special thanks go to our Facilities staff once again for making certain that the place looked in great shape. The campus was clean and beautiful, and ready to host our visiting schools so they could experience a taste of our “Driving Spirit.”  It was an enjoyable weekend and I thank each and every one of you who participated.

As I went about my way on both days, I had the chance to actually talk with a number of parents who I usually don’t get to see. For many of you, particularly in the Lower and Middle Schools, I only get to see you at carpool and it is nice to suddenly see you walking about and enjoying a beautiful fall evening and/or day. As people would stop to talk, I heard two constant refrains that were very important to hear:

Thank You.  A number of people made sure that I heard how happy they and their children were here at Flint Hill. They were pleased with the challenge their children are receiving in class, they loved their teachers, and they deeply appreciated the tone and sense of purpose at the school. There were various comments about different projects or things that were happening, but overall the experience in the academics, arts, athletics, and the ethical leadership that we all promote with our core values, seemed to resonate with these parents.  I was touched by their sincerity and by their willingness to share their excitement on being here and being a part of the school family.  Several even commented that they wished they’d gotten here earlier in their children’s career.  We are just glad that they finally have become a part of our community.

Change.  Other comments, while still very positive and insightful, had to do with the level of change that seems to be such a part of life here. Some parents just commented on how much change always seems to be here. Somehow we have adopted an entrepreneurial spirit that seems to continually drive us forward.  Some folks, in all sincerity, also asked me, “Please be careful with all the change.  It just seems to be happening constantly.” Their concern was focused on communication and the need to keep everyone posted and up to date on what we are doing, so they can be prepared and be the advocates for us that we need. That is a concern we carry as well.  We work hard to deal with the pace of learning today. While we are intentional in always looking to improve, we are also constantly aware that we need to customize, personalize, and transform how we do education.  In a nation that talks about wanting different results from education, you can’t continue to do the same things. If we are really going to take it to a new level, if we are going to provide the safe and secure environment we all want, it will take an enormous amount of work behind the scenes… and some of that may generate the feeling of ongoing change.

We are cognizant of all the change that takes place here, and I assure you that we will look carefully to make certain that we are putting down roots in the right places even as we go forward.  Change just for the sake of it doesn’t do anyone any good. Everything we do here really is done intentionally, deliberately, and with thought. Do we hit the nail on the head every time?  Of course not, but we are certainly doing it with the best of intentions and we learn from our mistakes. In fact, as I listened to parents over this weekend with both, complements and concerns, a number of quotes came to mind. I love collecting quotes and I frequently go back to them just to refresh my memory and to make certain that I am thinking about the lessons that could be learned in just a few short words.  Three readily came to mind on Saturday:

  • “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually afraid you will make one.”

  • “If you try and lose, it is not your fault.  If you don’t try and lose, it is all your fault.”

  • “The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.”

I wish I knew the authors of those lines of wisdom. I have them written on paper and don’t remember how they made their way into my collection. Please know, as we now head into the next phase of the school year, that we are committed to reflecting on what we are doing and to collaborating and communicating together with students, faculty, and parents as well all strive to provide the best future possible for our children. We are the engine of our own innovation. We have to be the ones who ignite that passion for learning. “Family gatherings,” like Homecoming, just reinforce the need to do that.

On a side note, I will also share that I talked to a number of alumni who came back to visit.  A number of young alumni who are still in college were there, as well as alumni who have been away for a long time. Director of Alumni Kavon Akhtar was key in making it a special day for them. In fact, members of the class of 1993 were back on campus to watch the games and to have their 20th Class Reunion that evening.   Many of them had not been to this campus before (since they attended classes on the East Campus). They expressed how impressed they were by not only the facility and “place” that our students today have, but by the poise, manner, spirit, and excitement they saw all around them by the Flint Hill Huskies.   They felt real pride in what they saw and were pleased to be here to witness how far the school has come since the days when they were here.  I also heard from our young alumni how well prepared they were for college and how they seemed to be far ahead of their new classmates in many areas. “College is much easier than Flint Hill, Mr. Thomas,” was a common refrain and a reassuring one to hear.

As I mentioned before, this is what Homecoming is all about; it brings us together. It gives a chance to celebrate, to listen and learn together, a chance to cheer on the teams that were there playing hard to represent us all, and to cheer on all that we are accomplishing together. Again, thank you for a super weekend!

Go Huskies!!
Best wishes to you!