March 21, 2020
Dear Putney Students,
I am very much looking forward to school starting again - although I didn’t grow up with all the wonders of the internet, I am delighted to have them now. It will be different, for sure, but we can keep connected and create our community in new ways. Many of you who are at home are sad that you can’t be at school. There will be just a small number of students on campus, most of whom are pretty sad that they can’t be home with their families at this scary time.
Without sounding too much like a Hallmark Card, I can say without a doubt that the essence of Putney is the people. We love this piece of land, and we love the way of life here, and the maple scones...but mostly it’s about the people. By the end of this mess, your teachers will all be converts to the benefits of social media, and we’ll use all we have to keep things rolling ahead. When classes start we will also launch into leadership elections and selections. We’ll get LitMag out and continue working on the yearbook. We’ll have weekly assemblies, some dorm olympics, and any of a whole variety of school wide collaborations. Send ideas and proposals for fun to Magda and Larry, or create them yourself.
We’ve been working steadily over break to set up good academic systems, and on Monday the faculty gather (virtually) to start the planning for classes. The first day of classes, on March 30th, will doubtless feel like the first day of school - a little messy, nobody sure of the routine, working out the kinks. Think of it like the start of anything else - first day of barn, first day of Latin Dance, first day of Humans - and realize that if you got comfortable with those routines, you can do this too. Your advisors will be meeting with you regularly to see how things are going. Kevin Feal-Staub will be in touch with you soon to give you more details.
I hope you will try hard to find ways to be useful in this situation, in whatever way that is possible where you are. You may know elderly people who need someone to shop for them, or children whose parents are not able to help with the homeschooling because they have to work - being an online teacher would be a good skill to learn, it turns out. There will be organizations in your communities looking for volunteers in a variety of ways. This virus is going to be a great test of all of our character and resilience, and finding ways to help out is often the best medicine emotionally.
And please do respect the need for social distancing - if you understand the science of epidemics, you will realize that doing that is a social responsibility, not just about your own safety. Thank you.
My best to all of you, every day.
PS - One of the bright sides of this crisis is that humans are currently pumping far less carbon into the atmosphere than they were a month ago. There is probably nothing better designed to curb climate change. I found this photo of students spelling out 350, for 350.org, I think 8 years ago.