Parent Newsletter by Franny Shuker-Haines

Parent Newsletter, September 25, 2019

Dear Buxton Families,

It is a pleasure to be writing to you on this warm late summer/early fall day! As you can tell, I am in a particularly good mood because the start to the school year has gone incredibly well. Although it is always a whirlwind of activities and experiences, some years feel more discombobulated and anxious than others. But not this year!

Even before opening day, the returning students came back this year ready to make it an especially thoughtful, positive, and productive year. They are implementing a new form of student government, they are reinventing Work Program and Kitchen Crew, they are forming new clubs, and just generally embracing the “can do” ethos that is so much a part of what make Buxton tick.

And as early as opening day, we could see these seeds of intention sprouting into action. The way the old students greeted the new ones, helping them schlep their stuff and find their books, showing them the places they needed to see and introducing them to the people they needed to know, was positively inspiring.  And watching the new kids knit themselves into the fabric of the school so quickly has been close to astonishing! At our opening-weekend picnic on Sunday, I saw new students involved in everything: going swimming, playing soccer and poisonball (a game that has rules so arcane and confusing, I will not attempt to describe it … except it looks like a lot of fun!), hanging out on the grass, swinging on the swings.

(Side note: there are few sights that fill me with as much cheer as watching teenagers swinging on swings. Why are there swings only at elementary schools? It doesn’t make sense! Swinging is great!)

When we hosted faculty teas later in the afternoon, we saw every student in the school traipsing from house to house, trying our treats, withstanding our questions (“Now, tell me your name again? Where are you from? How’s it going so far?”), and maintaining their good humor.

On Sunday night, we had our first formal dinner, which I started with a poem (called “Notebook, 1981” — check it out: the title is a link), and which ended with each senior reading a quote that they found meaningful. It was a beautiful night.

Last week then proceeded at a fast and furious pace. On top of all the classes, the kids also had their first soccer/A-Sports session after school, tryouts for the play (Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play directed by Timothy), first orchestra rehearsal, first creative-writing session, first gathering of the folk-singing group, first chorus rehearsal (we’re doing Benjamin Britton’s Ceremony of Carols among other pieces — a personal fave!), first figure-drawing session. There’s more, I’m sure. I just can’t keep track of it all.

(Another side note: After Timothy came back from tryouts on Monday night, he said, “This is the most talented group of students I have ever seen!”)

On Friday, many of our students participated in the climate strike, taking to the streets of Williamstown and even speaking in front of the entire crowd. Kudos to new student Ruby Lerman for helping organize this event!

The soccer team had their first game on Monday and, although they did not win, they came really close and played really well — which is especially impressive seeing as they had had one week to practice! Congratulations to them all! And, to give the team comfort and encouragement, there was a really vocal and enthusiastic cheering squad, complete with tambourine and cowbell. Such good energy.

There’s so much more I want to tell you about, but I will leave that to future newsletters. I want to make sure you get this sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I want to add that I have been starting every dinner with a poem. It helps us start the meal together in a more thoughtful, intentional way. The ones I have read so far have been:

Notebook, 1981, by Eileen Myles (as I mentioned earlier)

The Homework Machine, by Shel Silverstein (to celebrate the first night of study hall)

Happiness, by Raymond Carver

First Fig, by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Soaking Up Sun, by Tom Hennen

Poem to Be Read at 3 A.M., by Donald Justice

Prelude Number 4, by T.S. Eliot (Timothy read this one)


Have a great week!

All the best,



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