Welcome to the New School Year!

Hi WMS Families,

Welcome officially to the 2015-2016 school year!  As I’ve mentioned previously, I will send an update each Friday from my office on the happenings around school and highlighting events that may be coming up.

I do very much envision this update to also be a “door opening” endeavor with regard to parent communication and if you ever have questions or concerns about anything, please feel free to respond to my email or reach out directly to me in any other way.  In addition to any updates and highlights (not to mention my occasionally witty commentary) I provide, I will also attach a copy of the upcoming weekend’s schedule.  I know your students won’t always include you on all the goings on here on campus (shocking, I know!), so I will do my best to close that gap a bit.  If you have thoughts on other things you’d like to see or hear more about, please let me know.  I look forward to getting to know many more of you as the year unfolds!

So here goes . . .

After a very hot and busy welcome day, students and faculty all headed out Monday morning for their Orientation trips.  Though this is a challenging turnaround for staff in some areas (Thanks especially to Ted, Julie C and Carole for their efforts in getting us ready!) we believe strongly in starting the year in small, diverse groups away from the demands of school life and technology.  This allows us to really help orient students not just to life at WMS but to what being a part of this community truly means.  The feedback I’ve heard from students on their trips has been universally positive (the great weather always helps!) and I know my group learned a lot about the community, each other and had an awful lot of fun.  There will be photos up from all the trips in the very near future on the school’s Picasa page.

The last few days have been a flurry of new classes, dorm meetings, new sports, advisor meetings and other school-specific orientation tasks.  People seem to be settling in well to the new routine and adjusting to life at the start of a new school year.  This morning at Morning Meeting, in honor of the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01, Jim Norton spoke from the heart about growing up in New York and his memories of that day (which was literally his first day as a classroom teacher).  He closed by sharing a moving reading of Martin Espada’s poem “Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100”.

As you see from the attached schedule, this weekend is our Community Weekend.  It is a super fun weekend of games, activities and community bonding.  Any time I can combine “work” and “wiffleball”, I count that as a win!  There will be many photos and stories to share after the fact, but trust that your students will be engaged, have fun and may even try something new this weekend! They may also rip their sleeves off their shirts, get really muddy and paint their faces blue (sorry about that!).

Next week, we get into our “regular” flow and schedule of the academic week. We’ll have our first Advisor Dinner of the year on Friday night.  The dining hall shuts down on these nights and our small advisee groups have dinner together with their advisor and families, often cooking and eating together in their homes.  Next Saturday is also our first Project Block (A block classes) of the year.  This runs from 8:30-12:00 on Saturday morning, followed by lunch and then sports.  Next weekend is an “open” weekend (meaning boarding students would be able to sign out to go home, etc. . .for the night after their last commitment on Saturday).  I’ll outline the process of this for students next week.  In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions about it.

One final request:  If you have any feedback on our opening of school/Welcome Day, we’d love to hear it.  We have made some changes to this structure in recent years and we are anxious to try and make this process as easy and welcoming for students and families as we can and your feedback is essential to that process.  So good or bad, if you have any thoughts to share, please let me know so we can include it in our debriefing/next year planning process.  Thanks in advance!

Thanks so much for sharing your children with us!  It has been a great start and we are super excited about this coming year.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out should you have any questions at all!  Have a great weekend!

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