The Polar Express, Performances, and Project Blocks

Hi WMS Families,

I write with news from the week, but I’d like to first thank Shane for doing a wonderful job filling in for me last week.  I was in Washington, DC attending The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) annual conference. It is always great to get a chance to connect with colleagues from around the country, attend informative sessions on innovative ideas and programs, and return to campus feeling confident that our school continues to be a leader and a positive model in so many ways.

As mentioned earlier, this is a very busy few weeks on campus and this weekend is no exception. A good number of our dancers (and plenty of faculty children) are performing in the Nutcracker throughout the weekend with many more of our students signed up to go and see this wonderful annual production. Our basketball teams are both in action as well. We have our second to last Project Block (F) of the semester on Saturday morning. The Polar Express event, raising money for the Believe in Books Literacy Foundation, one of our favorite community service activities of the year (is your WMS student dressing up as an elf and bringing holiday joy to children this weekend?), is Saturday evening. On Sunday, our astronomy club has organized a trip down to Concord to visit the McAuliffe-Shepard Planetarium and Discovery Center.

We were treated to a great Morning Reading this morning on the practice of mindfulness, by local educator Erin Woo. Mindfulness education and awareness is becoming more prevalent in schools across the country and has been shown to have some great outcomes in adolescents. Erin has run mindfulness courses at a number of other schools and we are excited to be partnering with her to run an 8 week course in mindfulness practice for our students this winter. She has had a number of students express interest already and we are hopeful to fill these slots. There is no additional cost for this course and it will run 1 hour/week (likely between dinner and study hall) for approximately 8 weeks this winter. Please touch base with your child or their advisor if you think this could be something they’d be interested in.

Shane had a wonderful conversation with students during lunch this week about project block, and the particular types of activities students were able to do in class because they had this block of time. For example, one student thought “it was so cool” that they could read, analyze, and act out a full play in one session. Another was particularly excited about a local theater company director and expert who was going to be joining her theater class this weekend to work with them on one act plays and their Martin Luther King, Jr. speeches. The Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire will be joining us on campus and speaking to two separate classes this weekend. We are so fortunate to have outside experts willing to work with our amazing young people.

With three academic weeks left in the semester and two weeks to rest, we are encouraging students to really work hard in the last week before vacation. While we do not have a mid-term exam period, many courses are focused on culminating inquiry projects or will have cumulative tests before or after winter break. Looking forward to second semester, students who are taking any of our second semester electives–Exploring Environmental Writing, Modern Native American Literature, Spiritual Memoir, and/or Moral Reasoning and Ethics–will need to order books through ClassBooks. Students taking Outdoor Education Leadership will need to purchase their NOLS manual through the business office. If you have any questions about second semester courses or books, please touch base with Shane.

Thanks to those of you who have already communicated or confirmed travel plans for the upcoming vacation. Just a reminder that students are able to leave after our Holiday Celebration and Community Dinner next Thursday night. Our buses depart for Manchester airport and the Concord Coach bus station (buses to Boston – South Station and Logan Airport) early on Friday morning.  Dorms close for the break at 12:00pm Friday 12/19. Boarding students should return to campus on Monday 1/5 and classes resume Tuesday 1/6. Please let me or Betsie know if you have any travel problems or questions (I do know we are still waiting for return travel plans for some students).  Thanks!

I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season and have a chance to reconnect with your WMS students over these few weeks!

Best,
Nate