A Note from Principal Tony Byers: June 2016

Purveyors of pop culture would have you believe that the end of the school year is an unambiguously joyful event: the final bell rings and students run whooping from the building, throwing their papers and cares to the wind as they sprint towards the lazy days of summer. While the end of the year does include a fair amount of whooping, from both students and teachers, it also brings on more mixed emotions that are rarely acknowledged in popular portraits of the last day of school.

No matter their mission statements, all schools are grounded in relationships, relationships between families and teachers, students and teachers, teachers and administrators, and every other possible combination. Our students are nested within these relationships, and so the success of our work rises and falls based on how we negotiate our relationships with each other. Students thrive when these relationships are caring, open, and honest and suffer when they are not. Strong schools are characterized by strong relationships that support students. The end of the school year signals a pause and sometimes the end of these supportive relationships. Students feel this transition, and often experience it as a loss, even if they feel excited by the upcoming summer break.

And students aren’t the only ones who experience the end of the school year and the transition to summer as a loss. Family schedules and routines are often upended, and while the next school year is still many weeks away, the sureness of one school year gives way in the summer to the ambiguities of the next. New teachers, classmates, and expectations are on the horizon! The stakes feel both high and hard to grasp, and this can make parents and children anxious. We see the results of this anxiety every year, not in every student and family, but in enough to know that the arrival of June 22nd is not a cause for straightforward celebration for everyone.

While the transition from to school to summer and back again may come with its worries and challenges, it’s important to recognize what this says about our school and community. I’d like to think that our school prioritizes relationship building and that we’re a better school for it. So it’s right that there should be some mixed emotions over the last few weeks of school. They indicate a high level of investment in our community and that our community is worth investing in. I expect that even in the midst of summer, our students will miss coming to school, not necessarily because they miss the work, but because they miss the people and relationships that sustain them throughout the year. And that, right there, says everything you need to know about our school.

Until next year,