Parent Newsletter by Franny Shuker-Haines

Dear Buxton Families,

Happy (post-) Thanksgiving to all! I have just returned from a classic Thanksgiving road trip: we went to my mother’s house in New York on the day, and then drove on the Philly for a family-reunion/second Thanksgiving with Timothy’s extended family (there were 26 of us!) over the weekend. We dropped our youngest back off at college yesterday, picked the dog up from the kennel and—BAM!—we’re back at school for the final three-week whirlwind of the term!

Before we talk about what’s to come, let’s take a moment to appreciate what we just experienced. Fall Arts was so lovely, warm, productive, and impressive, wasn’t it? The students were so present: both in their art-making and performing, but also in their attention to the requirements of hosting. They greeted people with warm helpfulness and they took on the breaking-down and setting-up of the dining room with incredible low-key competence and confidence. This was the first time we gave every student a “job” for the weekend, whether that job be performing in several events or manning (or womanning!) the welcome table, helping the kitchen, or setting up chairs. Kudos to Kathleen for thinking of this, and to Kathleen and Lindsey for making it all happen. I want to also send a shout-out to Lauren McGovern, Owen Sweeney’s mom, for making a bunch of great suggestions that we implemented this year, from the aforementioned welcome table to the campus maps (with parking areas well marked) to name tags for everyone! Thank you, Lauren!

I loved every part of the weekend. The play was lyrical and sad and beautiful and so thoughtfully and maturely performed. The musical offerings were wonderfully varied and surprising. The visual art that surrounded us throughout the weekend was amazingly sophisticated, exuberant, and genuine. And the videos were cool and weird in all the best ways. Hats off to these engaged and inspired kids, to their artistic risk-taking, and to their confident sharing of their work. And, as always, applause and appreciation to our amazing art faculty. What would we do, who would we be without them?

I also want to thank all you parents and family members for attending the parents’ event on Saturday afternoon. It has quickly become one of my favorite parts of the weekend. I love seeing families make connections, talk excitedly about Buxton, and come up with great ideas for us to ponder—and possibly implement. I was also blown away by people’s response to our wish list! We raised well over $4,000 that afternoon (isn’t that amazing?), and I am happily looking for new lamps for the Billiard Room as a result! More important than the money—welcome though it most definitely is!—was the amazing spirit in the room. I felt like I had a team of Buxton boosters around me, eager to spread the word, support the school, and roll up their sleeves to keep Buxton the magical, spirited, adolescent haven that it is. So: Thank you one and all!

Along those lines, I do want to remind those who know—and tell those who don’t—that Buxton is happily participating in Giving Tuesday this year. A small group of young alums have generously and graciously agreed to match any gifts on Giving Tuesday, up to $7,500 (amazing, right?). We don’t want to leave a cent lying on the table, so we encourage everyone to consider donating to Buxton tomorrow!

Here are the details on that from Suzy: “There are two easy ways to go about making your gift.  The first is to send a check to Buxton School (291 South Street, Williamstown MA 01267).  Or, you can find our online giving tool on the Buxton website here, which will accept a credit or debit card.  I will also add that Buxton does take gifts of appreciated securities, and this is a good time of year (and good year) to make stock gifts—contact us if you would like the stock gift forms.”

Okay, now I have yet another important announcement: we are definitely going to Canada for the Urban Intensive Trip this year! We are still debating whether to go to Montreal or Toronto, so if any of you have connections or suggestions pertaining to either of those cities, let me know immediately. What this means for you right now, though, is that you have to get a passport for your child right away. There is still time to do it without paying the extra fee for expedited processing, but I would recommend getting started ASAP just to be on the safe side.

Some of our international students will need visas. We are hoping that we can organize that from here (possibly driving them all down to New York City to process them all in one fell swoop), but we are still researching that. We don’t anticipate a problem, but we will also have a Plan B in our back pockets…because we won’t go on an Urban Intensive Trip that excludes any of our students. I’ll keep you posted on all of that.

Finally, I just wanted to let people know that we are considering making the Gate House a “gender neutral” dorm for the winter term. The students are very excited by this idea, and we do have some gender-fluid/-queer students who are looking forward to a less gender-restrictive living environment. Obviously, this is new territory for us as a school and for you as a parent community, so we are going to proceed slowly and carefully. I will be back in touch soon with more details, and we will be soliciting permission from parents of students who are interested in such a living arrangement. We will not proceed without making sure everyone involved is comfortable and without being confident that we can create a safe, appropriate, and positive living environment for all students and their families.

Okay, that’s it for today. Much more to tell you about the last weeks of the term, but I will save all of that for next Monday. In the meantime, I hope you are all basking in the glow of a great Fall Arts, a warm Thanksgiving, and the happy anticipation of the winter holidays to come.

All the best,

Franny Shuker-Haines



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