Friday, January 8, 2016
I wanted to send best wishes for the new year along with some news from Suffield.
We are having an excellent academic year highlighted by the wonderful expansion of Brewster Hall. It is great having our students and faculty come together for sit-down lunches and seeing how the transformation of Stiles Lane has created a central walkway and new gathering space. Our seniors are effectively leading the student body and maturely handling the demands of the college admissions process. The fall term concluded with three memorable performances of "Spring Awakening" and reflections on successful seasons at our athletics awards gathering. As always, the investment and encouraging nature of our faculty are helping shape the warmth of our community.
We have several events this month I wanted to highlight including a chapel talk on Monday (January 11) by Chris Herren. Chris played college and professional basketball and speaks about his recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. He is the author of Basketball Junkie and was featured in a documentary called "Unguarded". Our January 18 chapel will honor the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with a student-led program focused on how Dr. King's dream has evolved in the twenty-first century, touching on issues of race, gender equality, and religion. Mark Shriver will be at chapel on January 25. Mark was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates and is now Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for Save the Children. He wrote a highly regarded book (A Good Man) about his father, Sargent Shriver, who led the creation of the Peace Corps among many other professional accomplishments.
On January 16 we have a program for parents of juniors (Suffield's Class of 2017) about the college search process (www.suffieldacademy.org/college
). In addition to learning more about how Suffield supports families in the college search, parents will hear from admission officers from Union, Princeton, Elon, and University of California San Diego. All juniors are now in the middle of the College 101 program, an integral part of our Leadership curriculum. This course provides an overview of several important areas: the college counseling process at Suffield, standardized testing for college, shaping a college list, and writing effective application essays.
We have several activities taking place in the Balance Barn this winter (www.suffieldacademy.org/page/Master-Plan/Balance-Barn
). It is being used for different styles of yoga and for meditation by several athletic teams, by our winter fitness program, and by students working with our strength and conditioning coach (Harry Melendez '07). We have community-wide offerings on Friday mornings and evenings.
The winter midterm closes on Friday, January 22. Progress reports will be sent to parents electronically during the following week.
Our admissions office is meeting with a large number of guests interested in applying to Suffield. More than 200 students are interviewing in January as we reach the first-round admissions deadline. We continue to see strong demand for our school—last year, 1,055 students interviewed for the 144 openings.
As we look to the spring, I wanted to note that the 2016-2017 academic calendar and reenrollment contracts for returning students will be mailed in early February. As I will mention in the cover letter accompanying the calendar, our 2016 Commencement speaker will be Dany Lennon Montague P'13. Dany began her career in London as a copywriter and then started placing creative talent as a headhunter. She moved to New York in the 1980s and founded what is now The Creative Register, which represents top-level creative talent around the world. Dany is funny and engaging, and we are really pleased she can be part of this special day for Suffield.
Finally, as we proceed through winter term I should again outline our inclement weather policy. Since the majority of Suffield Academy's students reside on campus, the school does not normally suspend classes or activities during snowstorms or other extreme weather conditions. Although classes and school activities will occur, day student families are asked to make their own decision about the safety of travel and to notify the school in the cases of absences due to the weather, following our standard procedure for reporting an absence to the Dean of Students' Office (860-386-4492). Our faculty understands there will be no academic penalties for excused absences and will offer appropriate help for any missed classes.
If poor weather causes a delay in the start of classes because of dangerous campus conditions, this information will be accessible through our website, our campus intranet (email) system, our mass notification texts, and by calling our Emergency Communication Line at 860-386-4404. These decisions will be communicated to students, parents, and faculty through these vehicles by 6:00 a.m. Administrative functions at the school such as meals and switchboard coverage will continue along scheduled hours.
In closing, I want to thank the many parents who contributed to the Annual Fund during the holidays. The fact that nearly 90% of current parents supported the Annual Fund last academic year is symbolic of our community strength. Fortunately we are headed for similar results for 2015-2016. Thank you for your partnership in our work with your children.