We had a high school senior last year, and graduation in June happened virtually, as it did for so many others. The school did its best by having the high school administrative team personally deliver our son’s diploma and by putting on a lovely virtual graduation. But we were determined to have some kind of celebration for him in August. We decided, of course, that the best place to celebrate such an accomplishment was at the Inn at Little Washington. We had 21 people at 3 different tables, with families generally sitting with each other. Marcus selected the menu, so it included his favorite dishes at the Inn. (This was consistently pointed out by Jim, who noted that not all of his favorites were on the menu.) The event was beautifully done (it was the Inn, after all), and the food was amazing. Jim gave a lovely toast, Rem (his best friend) gave an amazing speech, and Jade actually gave a lovely off-the-cuff speech as well. Marcus, not surprisingly, rose to the occasion and gave a wonderful, heartfelt speech, mentioning everyone there by name and explaining why he was grateful to them. It was all pretty perfect, under the circumstances. And while it wasn’t necessarily the party we would have had for him if we could, being Marcus, it was more than enough.
Our son goes to a private high school in Washington, DC where the academics are excellent, the kids are (mostly) affluent, and the pressure can sometimes be intense. This is especially true during the last week of October when the seniors have Early Action college applications due (November 1 is the actual due date). Marcus (on his own) decided that the high schoolers all needed to relax, have some fun, and remember to be children again. So he decided that Halloween week needed to be celebrated. He proposed his idea to student government, who were enthusiastically in favor, and then to the administration, which gave him permission to move forward. Monday, 10/28, was the first day. Marcus managed to convince a group of his friends to show up to the school at 7:00 am (an hour before school started) to help him decorate the high school. And so it happened.
He also held a photo scavenger hunt (e.g. take a selfie with something orange, take a selfie with someone from every grade, etc.). His first winner emailed him the photos at 8:07 am. (He decided to award 3 prizes that day instead of 1.) Tuesday, 10/29 was Halloween trivia contest day. And Wednesday, 10/30 was a pumpkin hunt (like an Easter egg hunt, only for pumpkins) and a mummy wrap game. But Thursday, Halloween itself, was the highlight. A costume contest was held, with winners awarded from each grade. In addition, a faculty and staff costume contest also took place. To Marcus’s delight, the hallways were filled with costumed students and faculty alike, all excited about Halloween. Trick-or-treating with student government staffed stations and some faculty during class also took place. And, at the end of the day, faculty and students alike had some fun, remembered their inner child, and celebrated Halloween together. As the Head of School said, “It almost felt like a real high school.”
I sit on the board of a pre-K through 12 school, and this book was recommended to me by a faculty member. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, which uses philosophical thinking and empirical science to frame a discussion on how best to answer the question: “How should we live together?” In an era of increasing political polarization, is there a place and an opportunity for schools to teach and model respect, tolerance, and political equity in the classroom, and what should that teaching look like?
The authors examine several types of schools, communities, teachers, and teaching styles to arrive at an ethical framework with which to analyze the question. They looked at schools across the political spectrum and how teachers dealt with students from differing socioeconomic classes, ethnicity, and political viewpoints to model political engagement in a respectful way and how that might differ from teachers who deal with students from more homogeneous socioeconomic classes, ethnicity and political viewpoints. The result is a thought provoking book on what ways teachers should model ideal behavior, the challenges in doing so, and the obstacles that remain.
This book should be the beginning–not the end–of the discussion of how we should all live together and demonstrates how schools and teachers can assist students to start on the path towards political tolerance, respect, and engagement. I highly recommend this book to teachers, parents, and administrators alike!
Our 16 year old son is going to rural China (Yunnan Province) for 6 weeks as part of a school program called China Fieldwork Summer. He is very excited about the trip (which makes him a better person than me).
There was a meeting the other night regarding the trip with parents and many of the students who are going. My favorite moments from the meeting:
– when the faculty member announced there would be no smartphones allowed on the trip (audible gasps of horror)
– a follow up question about whether the ban would apply to smartphones with the SIM card removed (removed—yeah, right)
– when the faculty member said, “Don’t bring hair products. There are plenty of hair products in China.” A collective shudder rippled through the row of high school girls. (Needless to say, the faculty member is male.)
– after being told that the area was socially conservative so no tank tops or short shorts are allowed, a girl raised her hand and asked, “How short are short shorts?”
– a follow up question about workout clothes and whether they were exempted from the tank top/short shorts ban
– a question from one of the students: “Is this trip like camping?”
and last but not least:
– parents who had expressed resentment that our son speaks Chinese (ruining the curve in Chinese class) are now ecstatic that our son speaks Chinese (additional translator on the trip)
We celebrated the graduation of our daughter from Sidwell Friends School last Friday. The day was perfect—sunny but not too hot and with low humidity. Jim’s mom, brother, and (brother’s) girlfriend attended, as did my parents. It was a joyous occasion, with lovely speeches given by Bryan Garman, the Head of School; Margaret Plank, the Clerk of the Board of Trustees (“clerk” = chair in Quakerspeak); and Michael Govan, Class of ’81, who is the head of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
We had a whirlwind weekend of celebration, including a dinner at Peking Gourmet Inn to celebrate with many of those who were instrumental in Jade’s upbringing, and a dinner at the Inn at Little Washington to celebrate both Jade’s graduation and Jim’s mom’s birthday. (The specific number birthday is a state secret.)
Everyone left town on Monday (calloo, callay!). Despite the commentary, it was a wonderful weekend of family and celebration!
As we move ever more rapidly into the bittersweet final moments of our daughter’s senior year of high school, prom was the highlight of the week. A group of her friends met up for a pre-prom get together where several parents were on the verge of tears contemplating the fact that their children would soon be off to college. There was also much laughter, much love, and much incompetence when it came to the pinning of boutonnieres. 🙂
We think Jade looked stunning, but we are admittedly slightly biased in this regard.
Between the pre-party, prom, the official after-party, and the small after after-party, she got about an hour and a half of sleep. Good practice for those college all-nighters (studying, of course.). Most importantly, she had a grand time!
For three years, our daughter has participated in the Sidwell Friends Upper School dance ensemble. Dance ensemble was her first ever dance experience. It has been the place she has found the most serenity and peace during high school. (Her only regret is that she didn’t start in 9th grade and avoid the trauma of softball.)
This is the last dance recital of her high school career and so I have inexpertly filmed two of her dances from the recital.
Our biggest thanks go to Marie McNair, dance instructor extraordinaire, who provided a haven of support, growth, and encouragement for our daughter!
Friday, April 28 was the last day of classes for the Class of 2017 at Sidwell Friends School. The seniors traditionally celebrate by running through the hallways of the Upper School. Here is their run (courtesy of Marcus):
Our son graduated from 8th grade a few weeks ago in a lovely ceremony held at the school. Being a 14 year old boy with only an embryonic frontal lobe (at best), he neglected to mention that he was part of an ensemble that was singing as part of the ceremony. (If you knew the history of the non-existent singing genes of both the Lintott and Liang families, you would understand what a shocking development this is.) Nonetheless, he did a lovely job (you can actually hear his voice during the performance).
It’s a little bittersweet to now have two children in high school. I was a bit melancholy the week of graduation, but it was a sweet ceremony, and the kids were all great. Our son has a great group of friends, which should stand him in good stead in high school.
I have already decided that come next school year, with a high school senior and a high school freshman, copious amounts of alcohol is what is getting me through the year! 🙂
As part of his 8th grade science project, our son had to do a podcast about life on the International Space Station. Fortunately, a friend of ours, Dan Tani, is a former astronaut who actually spent significant time on the space station. Dan very kindly came over to our house to be interviewed for this podcast.
Here is the final version of the podcast (and thank you, Dan, for your time!):