Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We are excited to have our students back on campus and begin the winter term.
Our faculty spent a productive professional development day together on Monday. The agenda included an excellent presentation by Director of Academic Support Kim Wiggin about learning styles and cognitive growth. After academic department meetings we spent two hours with Dr. Michael Thompson learning more about both adolescent psychology and common traits of independent school parents.
The members of our senior class have been busy with college applications, and the number of students submitting materials before December has increased again this year. Over 90% of the Class of 2013 has already applied to at least one school (up from 80% at this time last year). Forty-one seniors (40% of the class) applied in binding early decision programs to 29 different schools. Our college counselors have been doing terrific work with our overarching school reports that detail the growth and achievements of our seniors. The acceleration of this process—with more activity occurring much earlier—brings opportunities and challenges for our students and the school, and I am pleased by how well we have responded to the ever-changing landscape of college admissions. Members of our junior class are now starting the College 101 program, which is an interesting part of Suffield's leadership curriculum. These students are working on personal recommendations, building résumés, researching colleges and universities, and managing the various components that factor into the search for their next school.
In mid-November, a group of 19 Suffield students joined nearly 1,000 others in auditioning for the 2012-13 Connecticut Music Educators' Association Northern Region Festival. Students were scored on several technical areas, and five students were chosen for the chorus (Denny Smythe '14, Harrison Moore '14, Jun Park '14, Logan Barer '13, and Clare Guerreiro '14) and another for the band (Seung Ho Hyun '15). You may have read on the website that our fall athletic season ended with some particularly outstanding performances including a second place finish in the New England Girls' Cross Country Championships, a tournament appearance from our Boys' Water Polo team, and a Super Bowl title for our football team (our fourth in five years). A dedicated cast and crew is now preparing for our upcoming winter musical, "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying," which will take place in the Jeanice Seaverns Performing Arts Center on December 13, 14, and 15 (www.suffieldacademy.org/performingarts
Next week I will be in Asia visiting alumni, current and past parents, prospective students, and educational consultants. We will have Suffield receptions in Seoul on December 5 and in Bangkok on December 8, as well as gatherings in Taipei and Shanghai. Early January will bring some popular events, including both a program for junior class parents about the college admissions process and the winter guitar show on January 19. Representatives from Hamilton College, Gettysburg College, and Northeastern University will join us for the junior parent event, and we will send along more specifics and details in the coming weeks.
In late December you will receive the next issue of SUFFIELD magazine, which includes several pieces about student achievements and our 2011-2012 Annual Report of Charitable Giving. I want to again thank the many parents who have already contributed to this year's Annual Fund. Put simply, tuition fees do not fully cover the cost of a Suffield education, and this gap is largely filled by the nearly $1.8 million raised in the unrestricted Annual Fund. During the past six years, despite a challenging economic and investment climate, we have seen extraordinary growth in both the size of the fund and the number of people participating. The 90% participation of our current parents (contributing a total of more than $900,000) places Suffield near the top of the group of our peer schools, as do our 40% alumni and 100% faculty participation. There are many reasons for this success, including the leadership of our parent chairs (Maureen McAllister P'16 this year and John O'Brien P'12, '14 and trustee Suzy Vogler P'11 during the past three years) and the hard work of our 200 alumni class agents.
We are also now embarking on a series of fundraising projects aimed at increasing our endowment and executing a campus master plan endorsed by our Board of Trustees in 2011. As I mentioned in a previous letter, construction of new science facilities will commence in early February. I am pleased to report that our plans to build a new campus access road have been approved by town authorities, and this will help clear the way for an addition to Brewster Hall. I hope members of our parents body will take an interest in supporting this vision for Suffield's future, as it will naturally require additional financial resources.
Lastly, I wanted to mention that Suffield has worked with Blaze-In Sportswear to offer custom school blue blazers for both girls and boys. They feature bold orange and black lining with the Suffield Academy seal and tiger mascot embroidered on the inside. The gold buttons are also embossed with the Suffield Academy seal. More details can be found on our website at http://tinyurl.com/suffieldblazers
Hillary and I send our best wishes from Suffield and look forward to seeing you on campus this winter.