20 Nov

Message from Joe

Dear Upper School (US) Parents & Guardians,

A bit of a surprise admittedly (as was last week’s winter weather), but we’re now here, on the eve of our Thanksgiving holiday break. It’s a great time to reflect on the fall thus far, and also look ahead to the coming weeks. I’ve recorded a new JoeCast (my periodic podcast), and below are some photos of recent events as well as timely reminders of upcoming US activities and programs.

Vaping, as you probably know, has become a prevalent activity amongst high school students, and a real cause for concern. Dwight-Englewood is not immune to this trend, and we know that there are many students who have thought about, tried, or are present users of these e-cigarettes, also known as vapes, with the major manufacturer being a company called Juul. The word juuling, then, has become synonymous with this activity, although there are another types of devices. Also, as I am sure you know, there are all sorts of chemicals that can be found in the juices that are vaporized and then inhaled, above and beyond the nicotine that they were created to contain.

In an effort to help our students grapple with this trend, we invited Tim Shoemaker, an expert in this area, to speak with our students and faculty. Tim had been here in May for a presentation to parents, and that was so successful that we had him return to the Upper School, and he will be coming back in January to speak at the Middle School, to meet parents, and do some follow-up work in the Upper School.

Tim’s presentation was dynamic and chock full of information, directed at delivering messages about the contents of those cigarettes, the types of false advertising that takes place and how companies are deliberately marketing these products to adolescents. His goal was definitely to inspire students to stay away from vaping, rather than risk becoming addicted or injured. He used the film Titanic as a double metaphor. On the one hand he asked the question that if you knew the end of the movie, would you have every gotten onboard the Titanic in the first place, and he likened that to the notion that if you knew what could happen to you down the line from vaping, would you ever start in the first place? Of course he picked Titanic because of the type of story it tells, something that looks wonderful and safe at the start turns into something very different later on.

Tim also delivered a lesson about media literacy and false advertising along the way, which was very well tuned to the critical thinking skills we are working on in School.

It was a jam-packed hour, and actually ran over our allotted time, and I let him go long because he was still finalizing the message, and because students were paying close attention to him. I was glad that I did, and had we not been off Friday we would have followed up right away, because there are lots of pieces to continue talking about. In lots of individual conversations after the presentation, Tim learned more about the behaviors in our school, and also how some kids are looking to quit or build the resistance skills to stay away from this behavior. We will come back to this after break, certainly, and I urge you to see Tim’s presentation when he returns in January.

Looking forward to the coming weeks, please note that Winter 2019 Driver’s Ed is once again being offered at the School by D-E 360° in partnership with FNL Driving School.  For details and to register online click here or go to www.d-e.org/driversed

In the event your Thanksgiving holiday weekend gatherings include conversation about summer plans, you may want to consider the outstanding D-E 360° International Summer 2019 trips available. Led by members of our own D-E faculty, this year’s trips include China, Italy, South Africa, and Salamanca (Spain). All the trips have an early December initial deposit deadline so it’s best to confirm plans soon. You can find details including itineraries and cost information here or go to https://de360.d-e.org/d-e-travel/

I also encourage you to ‘save the date’ for an upcoming December 5 “PEP” talk, which is a Parents’ Association-hosted parent ed. event on the topics of resilience and self-reliance. D-E Parent Paola Bettelli is graciously facilitating this conversation scheduled for Wednesday, December 5, at 8:15 AM.

Finally, a note to check out the photos included here from the events of the past week, including last week’s Fall Sports Banquet, US Diwali Assembly, and Stage Band’s Jazz Brunch, plus this morning’s All-School Thanksgiving Assembly. Suffice it to say, all these gatherings showcase just some of the exceptional talent prevalent within our entire student body, and are a tribute to both our families and our faculty/staff and coaches as well.   

I wish you a relaxing holiday weekend and look forward to seeing you all next week, after the break.


Joe Algrant