Wednesday, September 27, 2017
As we head to October I wanted to send some news from Suffield. We are looking forward to having you here for Parents' Weekend and to welcoming back many alumni for their Reunions. There will be a great deal of activity on campus. A reminder that registration will be in the lobby of Brewster Hall throughout the weekend and you will receive meeting schedules by email next week.
The first weeks of our academic year have gone well and we have largely settled into the intense routine of campus life. Our robust academic program has 230 class sections and the average class size is between 10 and 11 students. The curriculum has both core departmental offerings and more than 40 elective classes. These include new courses in the arts, AP Computer Science, two college-level math classes, and honors science electives in biotechnology, primate disease ecology, research methods, and advanced psychology. Our community spirit has been evident since we convened and was on full display on Monday when the 2017-2018 senior speaker series began with nine chapel presentations.
The start of the academic year has also been highlighted by the opening of Brodie Hall, which will be dedicated at our fall Board of Trustees meeting on Friday. Brodie is providing nine beautiful classrooms this year before it is converted into a dormitory for up to sixteen students and two faculty family residences. The renovation and expansion of Memorial Building is unfolding—foundations are in and we are now seeing the steel framing begin. You can follow construction on our webcam (web.suffieldacademy.webcam
). Our students and faculty seem proud of the new facilities and we feel fortunate for the broad outpouring of support from parents and alumni that made them possible.
Our fall arts and athletics programs have robust enrollments and more than 70 students are involved with this year's musical ("Hairspray") on December 6, 7, 8, and 9. Several athletic teams look to be among the strongest in their leagues. The dedication and commitment of our students and faculty are fully evident in all of these areas, from interscholastic sports to arts to SOLO (suffieldacademy.org/experientiallearning
). Our senior class has done a nice job stepping into new roles of leadership. They have helped us welcome 135 new students and a student body from 23 states and 28 countries. Demand for admission to Suffield continues to be strong and we will host more than 300 prospective families for campus tours before Thanksgiving.
At this weekend's fall Board meetings our trustees will spend time with several students (both members of the Class of 2018 and those new to Suffield this fall). The Board will begin working on strategic planning for Suffield's future, and we will discuss this process with parents next weekend as well. As our 2011 Campus Master Plan nears completion with the Brodie Hall and the Memorial Building projects, this is an opportune time to create a blueprint for strategic decision-making in the years ahead. Our Alumni Council was on campus last week and spoke thoughtfully about elements of life at Suffield they hope are non-negotiable as we move forward including small classes, inspirational faculty members, family-style lunch, a dress code, high-quality food, structured time, a diverse community in all ways, and vigorous maintenance of the campus. They also emphasized the importance of mental health initiatives and of our deep investment in each student. I look forward to getting input from all constituents as we work through the strategic planning process during the next year.
In a period of some global anxiety I cannot think of a better environment for young people than Suffield. The combination of clear core values and a supportive, nurturing environment make it a wonderful place to navigate adolescence. As we pay close attention to current events my central message to our students and faculty has been straightforward: Suffield is a place where genuine, fundamental respect for others is a requirement, and discrimination or intolerance will not be accepted. These are absolute (and in no way relative) values, and the foundation of our community rests on kindness and respect.
Again, it will be fun having you on campus next weekend and it will be a great chance for you to see Suffield in its full autumn splendor. Hillary and I send our best wishes to everyone and look forward to seeing you.