Happy New Year

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday with your kids – we are delighted to have them back.

One of the many things I love about this generation of teenagers is that they are so open with their affections and so ready to show how much they mean to each other. Just watching them jump up and down and hug each other, and seeing the joy on their faces when they see friends after a couple of weeks apart, makes all the hard parts of raising adolescents fade away. I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager we were way too cool to be so visibly happy and were doubtless less internally happy as a result.

We have a variety of traditions to amuse ourselves in the winter term. One of my favorites, which the student heads of school kicked off in the first assembly back, is the Random Act of Kindness by each advisory group. Each group simply decides on something nice to do for the community during the winter. The acts are different every year and have ranged from subbing for the AM barn crew to a song and dance performance in assembly. Usually, many of them involve baked goods. We also have the Dorm Olympics during winter term, which involves hot competition across a range of sports including hula-hooping, a spelling bee, a frozen t-shirt contest, and dorm videos. Later in the winter, we have a gala dinner and dance, which is called Snow Ball. This has been happening since the 1930s, I believe.

On January 21 we will celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, along with the rest of the nation. Rather than taking a day off, we use this day as an old-fashioned teach-in. This year the student and faculty diversity committees have written the mission and goals for the day, and students and teachers are proposing and leading workshops on a variety of topics with this focus:

Mission: To grow and sustain a caring community with shared values of empathy, compassion, understanding, and action.
Purpose:To illuminate the commitments of the school put forth in the Fundamental Beliefs, the Putney Core, and the 10-year vision through mindful and meaningful–both for the individual and the collective–social justice workshops based in current landscapes of personal and systemic power, privilege, oppression, prejudice and the intersectionality of such forces.

With all of this going on in addition to a slightly shorter academic trimester, the winter term goes very fast. That said, if your student is restless, encourage them to talk with Rebecca Speisman about the possibility of going on a Network Exchange, which provides an opportunity to spend a couple of weeks at any of 18 schools in the US and Canada. We tend to have many more students coming to us than going away, and this is too bad, since it’s a great opportunity to see a different community, and it’s free other than travel expenses. You can see the options at netcompsch.org. 

All the best to all of you,


Emily H. Jones
Head of School