Happy New Year

Dear Parents,

Happy New Year!  As I write, we are gearing up for what is being predicted to be a few days of serious cold and a fair amount of snow.  Already it is blowing horizontally outside my window.  We try to find the middle ground between moaning about the cold and being so “Hardy New England” that we don’t recognize that it can be dangerous and we need to encourage students to dress sensibly.  For those who love winter, the whole world is a giant playground for sledding, skiing, sculpture and snowball fights.

The winter term is short, the shortest of our three trimesters.  We pack a lot into it, intentionally.  Unlike schools that have a holiday on Martin Luther King Day, for us that is a day of study, reflection and community work on themes of equity and inclusion.  Some of the student leaders have been working hard on this year’s program in consultation with the Diversity Steering Committee.  My sense is that students are eager to become effective agents of change in our troubled society, and understand that often this starts by looking inward.  International students are often able to recognize parallels in their own cultural history that they might not have seen before.

Other events of the winter term are less intellectual, for sure.  Each advisory group thinks up and carries out a “random act of kindness” to the community; in past years this has included doing morning chores for the winter barn crew, delivering cupcakes to students walking out to Gray House, French fries for all on a Saturday afternoon, and other (often gastronomic) kindnesses. We hold “Dorm Olympics,’’ a weekly series which pits dorms (and day student groups) against each other in contests of hula hooping, tug of war, limbo, and other fairly silly activities. Towards the end of the winter we have our annual “Snow Ball,” which is a fancy dinner and dance.

In a couple of weeks we will host eight students and two adults from Fordham Leadership Academy, a public school near Fordham University in the Bronx.  A former Putney faculty member teaches there, and she and I have been hoping to develop a relationship between the two schools.

Thank you to all of you who have recommended books and articles to me – I much appreciate it!

All the best,