Parent Newsletter from Franny Shuker-Haines

Dear Buxton Families,

As I mentioned in my letter last week, I owe you a parent newsletter! I’m afraid the new year has gotten off to such a rapid-fire start that I have not had a minute to sit down, collect my thoughts, and translate them into written words!

To start off, I am pleasantly shocked at how quickly the new students have become part of the Buxton community. I see friendships blooming everywhere, and the lunch and dinner tables are a lovely mix of old and new, freshmen and seniors, kids of all kinds. This wonderful integration was evident as early as the opening-weekend picnic at Windsor Lake State Park in North Adams. Kids were playing “poison ball” and soccer, swimming together, playing raucous games of “Cards Against Humanity,” and hanging out on blankets and benches.

Later that same day, we hosted “faculty teas,” where kids walked from campus apartment to apartment, meeting teachers, seeing where they live, and sampling foods prepared by teachers just for the occasion. Bill had his famous hot peppers, and Kathleen offered her usual s’mores. It was great to see the “old” students taking the new kids around to the various stations of snacking, and impressive to see how comfortable and outgoing so many new students seemed. (I say “seemed” here because we all know that new kids were also freaking out a little bit!)

And then classes started—and it has been a whirlwind ever since! The juniors are already deep into War and Peace, and the seniors are reading short stories with Franny and short poems with Bill. The sophomores have started with Cannery Row, and the freshman are reading Just in Case, by Meg Rosoff. The freshman/sophomore social studies classes—“The Cold War,” taught by Story, and “Gender and Identity,” by Elissa—have gotten off with a bang (I hear great reports from students in both classes), and we have a bumper crop of kids taking French I. The science classes are already holding labs, and I’ve seen people doing math homework all over the place. The school is humming.

Soccer is also swinging. The boys have already had four games and although a victory has eluded them so far, spirits are high. “It’s about a lot more than winning,” a senior said to me this morning. Agreed. The girls have had two games that all agree have gone well. I love that our program is about participation and spirit—and that even the kids know that while winning would be satisfying, there are other satisfactions to be had along the way.

The evening arts activities are also zooming forward. The fall play is Room Service, a charming 1930’s farce with slamming doors, crazy characters, and a moose head to boot. The chorus this fall is singing Fauré’s Requiem, one of my all-time favorite choral pieces. The orchestra is doing a combination of pieces and has a heartening number of new members. Kids have also been going to figure-drawing classes at Williams College, and the creative writing activity had more participants in its first week than ever in my recollection.

There’s so much more to report on—the first two “Kitchen Crews,” the great spirit of Work Program, “rec committee,” and more—but I’m going to stop here and report back on all of that next week.

In the meantime, I hope this finds you all well and not too, too lonely without your children!

All the best,


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