Buxton Urban Intensive 2017 -Parent Newsletter by Franny Shuker-Haines

Dear Buxton Families:

Here are the final nitty-gritty details of the upcoming trip to Chicago!

To put last things first, I want to make sure everyone knows that families are invited to come to a final performance of our all-school production of Metamorphoses (a play by Mary Zimmerman based on the stories by Ovid) on Friday, March 10, at 7:30 P.M. in the Buxton Theatre.

If you do decide to come to the performance and you want to take your child home that evening, we need your cooperation on a number of fronts:

1) Please do not plan to leave before 9:00 P.M. All students MUST be at the performance and have time afterwards to clean up the theatre and their rooms before leaving. Which leads us to:

2) Please be sure your child’s room is fully cleaned up before you all leave campus. A lot of moldering and critter-attraction can happen over a two-week break…and we don’t want either!

3) Let us know (you can inform me or your child’s advisor) if you will be taking your child on Friday night so we have a good sense of who should be in the dorm when we do bedcheck that night.

If you decide to have your child come home Saturday morning, that is also fine. Just remember that their dorm rooms must be clean!!

Okay, now to backtrack a little…

I am enclosing an itinerary of the Urban Intensive Trip. (It is a Word document called “Itinerary”—clever, eh?) It’s the same one we use internally, so it is very detailed, but in this case I figured more is more. Enjoy!

I also wanted to just say a few words about nervous jitters. I imagine you are feeling some, and I know the kids are, especially new ones. This is normal. Taking the entire school on the road is an audacious enterprise. I don’t know of another school that does it. But it proves—in vivid strokes—that the school is the community of the people who make it up, no matter where we are or what we are doing. We’re still Buxton in a hotel in Chicago or on a bus in Pennsylvania. And that’s a very cool thing to experience and discover.

But it’s nerve-wracking to leave everything behind, to not know what each day is going to look like, to be in new settings and situations every day. And to have to be on best behavior and looking polished every day is also its own special hell for some of these kids. No wonder a lot of them are experiencing their excitement with a chaser of high anxiety. Let me reassure you that this is normal! And that kids soon find that the trip is, first and foremost, fun! When they get back, it’s always the adults who look a little bedraggled and frazzled; the kids, on the other hand, are always bubbling with stories, experiences, newly inflamed passions, more reasons to want to engage with the world, and indelible memories. (And sometimes a newfound path in life: Buxton alum Christian Parenti, an award-winning investigative journalist, found his professional passion on the trip, for example.)

On top of that, I know Chicago has been in the news lately, and people may be experiencing a little emotional vertigo as a result. I want to reassure you about that too. Timothy (who runs the trip) recently wrote an email to some parents who were questioning our choice of destination, and I wanted to share some of that here:

“Obviously there is a crime problem in Chicago, and there has been a dismaying increase in shootings there.  However, it is important to keep some historical perspective in mind.  The increasing violence rate in the last two years has come after two decades of steady decreases, so the number of murders in Chicago is below where it was in the early 1990s.  Also, the numbers are affected by Chicago’s population.  While it had the most murders of any US city in 2016, its per capita murder rate was very similar to the rates in Atlanta or Washington, DC, and was lower than that in many other US cities.

“The sad fact is that the majority of Chicago murders are gang related; very few of them involve people from outside a few particular neighborhoods.  While the crime rate in Chicago is a very disturbing fact, I don’t think visiting Buxton students are in any significant danger.

“Finally, the hotel we are staying at is right downtown, far from the areas where the crime has tended to be located. And the kids will be spending their days in small groups, supervised by at least one (and in some cases, two) adult(s), going on meetings and excursions that they have planned well in advance. So, if you are worried the kids will be left to their own devices (and therefore able to get themselves into a troublesome situation), rest assured that the Urban Intensive Trip is very structured and the kids are busy and with grown-ups the vast majority of the time.”

Hope that helps!

I want to get this “in the mail,” so to speak, so I will sign off now. If there are more details I forgot, I’ll send them along as the week progresses. And I will try to gather intel from the trip to send along over the course of next week.

Wishing us all bon voyage,


Chicago Trip Itinerary

Start typing and press Enter to search