The Intangibles that Make Lasting Memories

Dear Flint Hill School Families,

With chilly but gorgeous weather, a host of activities, and all the energy that surrounded our great School, we have concluded another successful Homecoming weekend. It is always exciting to see our School family get together to celebrate Homecoming. This terrific event wouldn’t have been possible without the help of nearly 200 volunteers, with special thanks to Mica Howard and Mike McClements for leading the way as Co-Chairs, to Sibel Unsal for serving as the Volunteer Coordinator, to Ginny Shevlin for another amazing job with the decorations, and to Katrina Tiedge for undertaking the concessions and food. They all worked together with the support of our Development Office to make the entire weekend come to life.

While much could be written about the day, I don’t want us to lose sight of the “intangibles” that say far more in a matter of moments than anything I could ever write. I am a firm believer that 65% of all of our communication is done non-verbally, and the past week was filled with examples of this concept. I saw it in the way students helped pick up cups and pizza boxes, as the bonfire ended, to help facilities clean up the area in preparation for Saturday’s festivities. I also noticed it among prospective families on Friday and Saturday, commenting on our students’ laughter and the sense of community they witnessed as students and their parents enjoyed the events together.

At one point, I was asked to pick the winners for a candy jar raffle. A number of jars were filled to the brim with candy, with many students hoping to have their names pulled as winners. With Klondike by my side, I drew the name of an Upper School student who was attending with her friends. She was surprised and delighted as we handed her the candy jar. Meanwhile, a Fourth Grade student stood at my side, bouncing with anticipation as she hoped to win one of the jars. Her hands were clasped together as she whispered, “Please, please!” As I went on to pull the other tickets, I noticed that the first winner was sharing her candy with the other students who had gathered to watch the raffle. Instead of collecting her winnings and walking away, she stayed to share her candy and watch other students win. As I pulled the final name and the winner was revealed, I saw the shoulders of the eager fourth-rader slump when her name wasn’t called. But as we started to clean up, I noticed that the Upper School student, who won the very first jar, leaned down to the fourth-grader and said, “You know, there is no way I can eat all of these. I would really like you to have this jar.” That small moment of compassion spoke volumes to me.

Later, during the football game, when a group of Potomac fans sat on our hillside for a better view, they were welcomed by members of our community. As the game ended, players immediately went about the business of removing the gates from the field and then meeting with their coaches. The cheers had been loud and hard as the game came to an end, but this was a strong element of good sportsmanship. There was pride for sure, but it was humble and respectful. As the Potomac fans and players walked through a crowd of Huskies, there was never one negative comment. Instead, I heard “Good game!” and, “Thanks for being here!” all said with sincerity and honesty.

In the middle of it all, seventh-grader Mackenzie Fitzgerald approached me to share a poem she wrote about the school, which I believe speaks right to the heart of our sense of school family. This is just another take — a student’s take — on the energy and diversity that make us so special. And the fact that this wonderful young scholar was willing to share her poem with me is an example of an intangible in its own right.

Again, thanks to everyone who was able to attend Homecoming last weekend and to everyone who helps make this a very special place.

Best wishes as we move into the next phase of the school year! Together, we are going to make this the very best it could ever be.

Best wishes to you!

Sincerely,

John M. Thomas
Headmaster