Tradition and Innovation

On September 13, Head of School Patrick McHonett led the All-School Gathering, the first assembly of the 2023-24 school year, bringing together students, teachers, and staff from all divisions. He said, “This is a special place where we seek to balance both tradition and innovation to support you, our students, every day. Today, we gather as an entire community, the Husky Team so to speak, to kick off the school year together as one Husky community with the hopes and well-wishes for an outstanding school year.” Student speakers gave inspirational speeches, and senior “lifers” lit the traditional lantern to illuminate the way for everyone’s educational journey. The lantern will stay ignited until the end of the school year.

Signs of School 

“Hello Huskies,” “Welcome to the Tundra,” “Greetings,” and “Freshmen are Friends, Not Food” were among a variety of signs made for students to see and feel at home as they arrived on campus for the first time in the new school year. Along with the signs were smiles, hugs, fist bumps, waves, and high fives. And, in an instant, the students, teachers, and staff all jumped right into action together to begin making 2023-24 unique and special.

Birds of a Feeder

Learning the science of animal biodiversity begins in the Lower School at Flint Hill. In the fall, 2nd graders studied the habits of birds and applied what they learned in their science lab, where they designed and built prototypes of bird feeders to attract specific types of birds based on what and how they eat. They considered important details, taking into account similarities — cardinals, finches, and jays eat seeds — and differences — a finch stands on a peg while the cardinal and jay like to stand on a tray while eating. Each piece of information helped the students customize their bird feeders to create a safe environment for their feathered friends. They even thought about design elements to keep cats away!

Houston, We Have a Costume

The Middle School Makers class teamed up with Magic Wheelchair, a nonprofit organization that builds creative costumes for children who use wheelchairs, to make a local 17-year-old’s Halloween wish a reality. The students and their teacher, Chris Cook, built a space shuttle
costume for Claire, a D.C. native with autism and a rare genetic condition. They unveiled her costume in front of the Discovery Space Shuttle at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

DIY Beach: Building Shore Is Fun!

The next time you long for the beach, ask a Lower School student for do-it-yourself tips to create your own! The Boardwalk was the theme for Day of Play 2023, and the students built boats, surfboards, sandcastles, fishing poles, a sand volleyball court, food stands, a variety of arcade games, and, of course, some sharks and whales. JK-6 Innovation Department Chair Joey Starnes, who coordinated the effort, says, “The Day of Play is an annual Flint Hill tradition that invites students to work together to plan, build, and play using recyclable materials and basic supplies like tape, glue, and their imagination! Each year we explore a new theme to focus our building and creating. The Day of Play allows the Lower School to come together as a community and to share in the spirit of making, engineering, and playing.”

Ceramics II Starts to Raku

In November, students in ceramics classes learned about raku, a unique technique that results in beautiful artwork with metallic finishes and crackle patterns. Students first mold and glaze their pieces in the studio. After the pieces are fired in the outdoor kiln, they are taken out while still glowing red-hot and placed in newspaper. This technique starves the piece of oxygen, creating unique colors and patterns within the glaze.

Involvement Starts Here

On September 1, Parents’ Association divisional ambassadors participated in a Kick-Off Meeting held at the Towers Crescent Conference Center in Vienna. For the 2023-24 school year, 81 parents volunteered as divisional ambassadors — a role that includes attending school events, hosting parent socials, volunteering, and encouraging others to get involved. Parents’ Association President Scott McCandless P’27, ’30, ’30 welcomed parents to the meeting, provided an overview of the divisional ambassador role, and introduced Flint Hill’s Advancement staff who work closely with the parents during the year. The ambassadors got to know one another better at the meeting through a series of team-building activities, signed up for various volunteer opportunities, and planned ahead for the rest of the school year. At the conclusion, Head of School Patrick McHonett thanked the parents for their partnership with Flint Hill and for serving in an important role in cultivating community. 

Lending Us a Laugh

In October, Olson Theater was alive with laughter as two talented casts, along with their hardworking crew, presented four performances of “Lend Me a Tenor.”

History Travelers

In Contemporary World History class, 9th graders studied the French Revolution in a way that transported them back to that time in history. In a simulation-based learning assignment, called the Future of France Debate, the students were assigned to be delegates in one of four groups — moderates who wanted to keep Louis XVI as king but have his power limited by a constitution; conservatives who wanted no change; radicals who wanted change; or the press reporting on the debate. The goal was to attempt to find a consensus among those different perspectives during the time of the French Revolution. Each group was also tasked with preparing a poster or political cartoon that captured their vision for the future of France. History Teacher Emily Sanderson says, “Classroom simulations allow students to play with ideas and situations and gain a greater understanding of perspectives.”

Cell-fies — An Insider’s Look

Our 8th graders took a pause from the external world of taking selfies to explore the kind of cell-fie that requires looking inward at what cells do inside the body. In science class, students learned about the role of cells and applied their comprehension further through a project that produced creative outcomes. “Our cell organelle analogy project is one of our favorites of the year!” says Middle School Science Teacher Jesi Hessong Brown. “Students expand and stretch the knowledge they have learned about the organelles of a cell and connect their learning to everyday objects or systems that perform similar functions. Utilizing analogies is an effective method for simplifying complex concepts in science — as they draw parallels between something well-known and something less familiar — making the concept easier to understand.” The students created unique posters for their project to draw comparisons to how cells function, including: Central Park; Gru’s lab from the movie “Despicable Me;” the Barbie Dreamhouse; a 3-D printer; a car engine; and a movie studio. 

Weather Alert

When WJLA meteorologist Brian van de Graaff visited Flint Hill, 3rd graders were weather alert and ready to ask questions, as they had been researching and giving class presentations about the science of severe weather types, including hurricanes, thunderstorms, blizzards, tornadoes, floods, and derechos. The students had the opportunity to be on live television and see how the StormTracker vehicle’s specialized technology is used for remote broadcasts. When asked for his winter weather outlook, Mr. van de Graaff shared his optimism for snow days and won an uproarious applause. 

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