Dear Flint Hill School Families,

Have you ever realized how often people like to label things? We want to have a simple and easy label that allows us to talk about our schools, businesses or even families. Having a label makes things easier to understand. It is part of human nature and it seems to simplify life, but only in our own minds. To be honest with you, I think we as a school, are hard to label. We can talk about our differentiators but people still want to label us just as they do with other organizations.

The fact is, there is no simplistic formula to describe us. Good friends of mine have tried to give me their impressions of Flint Hill, but they tend to be all over the place. Some people make references about our rigorous academic program. They have heard our faculty speak at conferences. They have visited our classrooms for one reason or another and have been amazed by what they see here in each division. They marvel at the writing awards we receive, the Latin recognition, the robotics success and the college list. They even talk about our long term success with students being accepted into the Governor’s Schools of Virginia. In fact, it was just announced on Friday that seven of our students have been accepted for this summer and one more is a preferred alternate. All of these markers, easily and quickly, inspire confidence in the depth and breadth of our program.

Still, other labels exist. I have heard some refer to us as a “jock” school. They see the write ups about our teams in local newspapers, including the Washington Post. They have heard about the number of students who will play in college next year, and the history of graduates who have gone to play in the pro ranks. They know that we won five Conference Championships this year. In fact, each and every one of our teams, all year long, has been in contention for Conference Championships, Tournament Championships or qualifying for States. When I hear this particular label, I always refer to our athletes as scholar-athletes, because I know for a fact that they are doing incredibly well in the classrooms as well as the courts and fields.

I heard another person recently who was very quick to point out that we have moved into the direction of being recognized as an “arts school.” They had heard of the successes of our students who are recruited by, and ultimately attend, art schools. They attended the Arts Jam Concert at George Mason University and heard the “sounds of excellence” in this incredible production. You can’t look at the artwork hanging in the Lower and Middle School Campus without appreciating the beginning of incredible talent and recognizing a program that sees true value in the arts. And if you attended the Middle School drama production this year or the Upper School production, I’m sure you were impressed by all the talent displayed by our student-actors. And if you really want to add legitimacy to that label, just come by the Upper School right now (this is an invitation to all families and students), walk the halls and see the collection of art, ceramics, digital art, sculpture, paintings, and even a movie that have been created by our amazing students. Very quickly you will see why some people might label us as an art school. But these students, in many cases, are also involved with our athletic teams, are in student leadership positions and clubs, and are doing very well in the classrooms.  Above all, they are fully engaged in their Upper School experience. They are the embodiment of the kind of balance that truly defines our program.

There is one label that always makes me smile. It is the one about the sense of character in our School culture that people can feel when they walk in our buildings. From our youngest Huskies who love their “Husky Promise,” and our Middle School students’ Code of Conduct, to the Upper School  Honor Code, we have students who work hard to live up to our high expectations. Add to that a number of leadership opportunities at school that allow our students to step up into roles that will allow them to shine. You can also see it in the poise and the manners of any Flint Hill student that you meet, in the application of the four core values, and the respect we all have for others. It is our direct focus on supporting, nurturing, and championing that culture that make it critical. That label goes to the heart of our sense of purpose and our sense of people and passion; it is our “driving spirit.”

So as we go about our week, let’s work hard not to label others. Let’s relish the excitement of watching our great children grow and learn here as scholars, artists, athletes, and ethical leaders as we end this school year. There is much to celebrate in the weeks ahead. Our Upper School students and faculty are preparing to celebrate Senior Day, as the Seniors get ready to head off to work on their senior projects. This weekend’s Upper School drama production, “Crime and Mystery,” will showcase our wonderful student-actors and directors! Next week, we will welcome grandparents and special friends and share with them all that happens here at school. And in the upcoming weeks, let’s cheer on our AP students as they get ready for those national exams.

Finally, let’s enjoy the fact that we have finally reached the period of (somewhat) consistent warmth and good weather. Let’s take that same good feeling into our hearts and enjoy all that this great year continues to offer us.


Best wishes to you!



John M. Thomas