A week ago, we were treated to a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month by our Hispanic and LatinX Affinity Group, working in collaboration with our INSPIRE club. The groups came together early in the year to talk with each other and formulate a plan for what they wanted to present to the Upper School. Once they put the plan together (a feat in itself) they set off to pull together an hour long presentation that included defining some terminology about being Hispanic or LatinX, playing some wonderful videos to highlight aspects of the culture, commentaries by our students, and a panel discussion about being Hispanic or LatinX in our School. As always, we heard powerful comments that both uplift and offer suggestions about how we can all better live and work together in the Upper School. It’s a tribute to our students that they are willing to participate in an event like this because it takes courage and poise, but in the end we all learn from each other in positive and powerful ways.
I’m writing as we come to the end of Spirit Week, our annual festival of fun events in a energetic competition between grades for title of Most Spirited Class. This afternoon we crowned the senior class as winners of the 2018 trophy.
The events of the week range widely, in order to include many interests and abilities, from soccer to solving problems in chess and mathematics, and lots in-between. These events and the spirit of competition have magically lifted the mood on campus. From first thing Monday when the grade deans competed in charades and the dance club orchestrated a flash mob on stage, to yesterday’s door decorating, to today’s closing ceremony with musical chairs and limbo as the final events, it’s been five days of great fun. It’s hard not to be swept up in the emotion and good-natured excitement.
By happy coincidence, this has also been the week of several senior celebration days for our fall sports teams. With duplicate 1-0 wins on Wednesday, both the girls soccer and field hockey teams honored their powerful seniors and parents, while on Tuesday the volleyball team did the same, as did girls tennis yesterday. These are proud moments in the lives of seniors, to be celebrated for their years of participation and leadership. In celebrating the seniors, our younger students can look to the future as they cheer for their older teammates, and imagine what might be to come for them.
Lest you think this is only about fun, the week also invites other moments of education, development, and growth. It provides leadership opportunities for many students across the Upper School, both within grades and across them. It offers moments to highlight different talents, and presents challenges in grade-wide problem solving. I also hope that in some way it teaches a little about the importance and enjoyment of balance in life between work and play. In fact, it’s also been a week where students have been faced with work as usual, and we have watched them figure out how to get their stuff done and have time and energy for the fun. The week culminates tonight with a dance, from 7:30 to 10:00 PM, in Hajjar Auditorium.
The spirit and energy of the week is also of vital importance because of the way it unites us. Because our students and faculty lead busy lives that take us all in varied directions, many of them away from campus, we cannot always demonstrate spirit in ways more usual in other schools, such as being fans and spectators. I know that it frustrates our student athletes sometimes when the fan attendance is not what they would like. The same thing happens sometimes with other after-school, evening and weekend events such as theater or robotics events. I don’t believe this is really about lack of spirit, but more about the lives of our members and the geography of our School. So during a week like this, where we go out of our way to focus and encourage spirit, seeks to make up for the lack of more traditional demonstrations. Our intent is for students to walk away from the week feeling that there is a lot of positive energy around what is happening on campus.
Almost as an aside, one of my most favorite aspects of Spirit Week is watching the same students who can be typically adolescent: cynical, satirical, moody, brooding and just too cool for school; somehow turn into young children who love the prospect of dressing up in weird clothing and eating donuts off of a string. It’s what high school should be, so please look at the attached photos, which provide but a glimpse of what the week has been like.
I hope that your children enjoy the break on Monday while the faculty of all three divisions takes the day to meet as a whole and in groups to work on projects we have undertaken for the year. That will also be important work, but of a very different kind.
Best wishes for the weekend.
-Joe Algrant, US Principal