Parent Newsletter by Franny Shuker-Haines

Dear Buxton Families,

Greetings from Week 5! I’m going to have to keep it short this week, but will try to make up for it with more news next week.

As I type, the juniors are taking the PSATs, and the seniors are taking the SATs here on campus, spread out, in masks, proctored by members of the faculty. It is great that our students are able to take these tests without taking unnecessary risks … but is “great” a good adjective to use when talking about standardized tests? Not sure. But it’s happening nonetheless! Send our juniors and seniors positive, supportive, and smart thoughts if you can!

As the weather gets colder, we are starting to use our indoor spaces more. I was reading an ongoing dialogue on the Buxton faculty Slack just this morning about how to do small group work without compromising social distancing, and I am really impressed with the inventive ways that our teachers are making this work. The spirit of sharing is such a hallmark of the school, and it is great to see teachers reaching out to each other with ideas, reports on methods they have tried, and other Tales from the Classroom. 

The Math Team took a camping trip this weekend! The pictures of them out in the woods, masks on, campfire going, are so great. Who knew math could be so outdoorsy?

We also hosted our first fall “open house” this week, complete with a virtual tour of the campus, mini classes (Puzzling with Adrian, Social Studies with Peter), conversations with teachers and current students. One of the best moments came when an alum who was on the call with her son chimed in to say that everything we were describing totally resonated with her experience of the school 30 years ago! She was particularly struck with the way we continue to take adolescents seriously, giving them a voice, meeting them where they are, hearing them out, involving them in so many aspects of the school. It was very moving to hear that the values of the school have stayed intact—and so instantly recognizable—for decades.

A lot of our seniors are starting to kick their college applications into higher gear now that early-action and early-decision deadlines are approaching. Essays are starting to take shape, and lists are getting honed. As much as we try to reassure our students that it isn’t really that much work to apply to college (once that 650-word essay is written, you’re almost done!), it is inherently stressful to, essentially, send yourself out there to unknown strangers to be “judged.” One thing I always try to keep in mind—and ask seniors and their parents to keep in mind—is that college admissions offices are usually staffed by pretty smart people who truly are looking for the right fit for their school. That means the college application needs to reflect the student honestly and vividly—and then the colleges can evaluate whether or not that student is likely to thrive on their campus. So, it’s not about being “good” enough; it’s about being a good fit. I know that can feel like a fine distinction at this fraught time, but I do think it’s worth keeping in mind.

Time to go practice my alto part for chorus. More next week!

All the best,



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