Parent Newsletter by Franny Shuker-Haines Nov 6

Dear Buxton Families,

Happy to be back in touch!

The last few weeks have had several highlights:

  • Home Weekend: I think a lot of kids were excited to go home and sleep in their own beds, tell Buxton stories to their families, and get haircuts. (It’s amazing how many kids come back looking unrecognizable shorn and tidy!) The students who stayed went on outings (Brattleboro, VT, was a popular trip), cooked together, had movie marathons, and did some quality gaming. These weekends are mellow and not-too-eventful, which is often exactly what everyone needs six weeks into the school year.
  • Halloween I: The junior class is responsible for organizing the Halloween extravaganza at the school each year. It typically takes place the Friday closest to Halloween, so this year the school celebrated the occasion on Friday, October 27. I was unable to attend the festivities, but I heard that they were particularly spooky this time around. The juniors got really interested in learning about—and exploiting—spooky Buxton lore. Apparently, there is a figure known as the “Buxton Lady,” who figures prominently in the oral traditions of the Buxton student body. I actually know very little about this particular figure, but I gather, like all good oral traditions, that it is alive and well and ever-changing.
  • Halloween II: On Halloween day itself, the students put on costumes and went trick-or-treating at faculty houses during evening snacks. Timothy and I really enjoyed seeing the inventive get-ups people pulled together, from an early-’80s Jodie Foster lookalike to a three-part giraffe to kids dressing up as each other. (I particularly love this Halloween tradition at Buxton. One year, a student came to our door with a chair on his head. I said, “What are you supposed to be?” He said, “Gum.” Brilliant! Priceless!)
  • End of soccer season and the annual student-faculty soccer game: Well, we didn’t have the winningest year in Buxton soccer history, but spirits were high and the teams played hard and well. (And, for a bit of perspective, I was just talking to someone who graduated from Buxton in 1961, who says that he remembers the team going crazy when they finally scored a single goal over the course of the season—a huge triumph!) As is our tradition, the season was capped off with a student-versus-faculty showdown. For the past several years, the faculty have actually won this particular showdown, but this year … the students were the winners! This, in spite of T-shirts custom made for the faculty by our intrepid Video teacher, Willie Binnie. Oh, well. The faculty are mopping up their tears and using them to feed their need for revenge next year!
  • College applications, round one: November 1 was the seniors’ first big college deadline. We had quite a few kids getting organized and applying by then, and we have another gang shooting for the 15th. December 1st is a biggie for everyone applying to UC schools (and some of the other big state universities), and then the bulk of apps are due on January 1st.

It’s a stressful time for these guys, even though it doesn’t actually take that much time to do the applications. I think the stress comes from this sense that you are sending some incomplete simulacrum of yourself out into the void, where you will then be judged and understood—or not—by complete strangers. I remember when my first child applied to college and she said, “I just wish I could be in the room with them when they are reading my application so I could answer their questions, or tell them more about what happened in that class, or explain more about why I like science so much.” It’s such an odd and in some ways arbitrary process.

I DO think our kids have a few advantages, though. And one of those is that their teacher recommendations and their college-counselor reports are written by people who know them fully and well. This allows us to do more of that explaining and rounding-out. It allows us to contextualize any blips or glitches in a student’s life or transcript, and to extoll the amazing things about them that might not make it into their application otherwise. I write a lot of the college-counselor letters, and it is actually one of my favorite things to do. I love bringing my best self to the process of articulating a student’s best self. It is a huge responsibility, of course, but one that I (and all of my colleagues) take really seriously.

I am going to stop here for today. As you know, Fall Arts is fast approaching. Please be in touch with Lindsey as soon as possible to let her know when you are coming, how many of you will be here, when you are available for a conference (if you are the parent of a new student), and what your and/or your child’s travel plans are.

Oh: and if you are excited, able, and/or willing to host an international student for the Thanksgiving break, please let us know. Many of our families have volunteered to do this over the years, and it’s a lovely tradition. Thank you in advance for considering this!

Looking forward to seeing you all soon!

All the best,


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