Parent Newsletter by Franny Shuker-Haines
Dear Buxton Families,
Can someone please tell me how the first three weeks of this term whizzed by so fast that I am only now able to sit down and write about them? I feel like I am at Hogworts and under some kind of time-speeder-upper spell that leaves me breathless and gaping at my calendar every once in a while, wondering how I got here!
So, belatedly: Happy Spring! Happy Passover! Happy Easter, one and all! And welcome to spring at Buxton. Now that it is finally spring-like (after a particularly cold, snowy, and very un-spring-like start to the term), we’re all starting to feel that lovely thaw that makes the final term at Buxton magical. Students are eating outside, lying on the not-quite-fully-green grass to do their homework, skateboarding down the ramp and the driveway in front of the Main House, and generally reveling in that feeling of having sunshine warming the back of your neck and having to squint to read your chemistry book.
Speaking of reveling, let’s revel in the Buxton’s Ultimate team winning its very first game after only ONE day of practice! Pretty fantastic, I’d say! Derek is the beloved coach of a spirited co-ed team that we predict will do really well all spring! Go Buxton!
And speaking of “go Buxton,” about ten days ago, we hosted our annual re-visit day, and had a record-breaking number of families come through the school again for a packed day of meetings, greetings, mini-classes, Q&A sessions, snacks, lunch, tours, and fun. It was such a pleasure to see our “old” students shepherd the new kids around with such pride. Buxton kids love their school, and it was evident all day in the excited ways they talked about their classes, the number of times they told compelling stories about the Urban Intensive Trip, the admiring ways they described their teachers. I was in a session answering questions from prospective families, and a visiting parent started to describe for the whole group how different Buxton was from other schools, how much the kids were empowered by the school, how much they learned outside the classroom as well as in. It was so heartening and lovely. Kudos to our amazing admissions office for bringing us such terrific families and arranging such a great day: Torie Nichols, our director of admissions; Justina Trova, our admissions and communications associate; and Margo Cardner, our director of recruiting. Amazing!
And speaking of amazing, the whole school went to MASS MoCA (the world-class North Adams-based contemporary art museum we are lucky enough to be near) for their annual Teen Invitational Art Show a week ago Friday. The show highlights artwork by teens from several area high schools, both public and private. The museum’s staff curates and hangs the show, and they create a terrific evening of art-viewing, prize-awarding, snack-eating, and dancing for the kids. Buxton is the only school that brings the ENITRE student body, but, hey, that’s one of the (many!) advantages of being a small school! Once again, Buxton was awarded more prizes than any other school (it’s getting a little embarrassing, isn’t it?), along with some nice prize money for our deserving art department. The work by all the students at all the schools was great to see. I am inspired by the optimism that making any art reflects—even if the subject matter itself is not necessarily optimistic. Because making and showing one’s art implies a trust that the art will be seen, received, considered, and understood by someone else. Art is about connection; it’s the embodiment of a dialogue. And all of these kids in all of these schools are trusting that that dialogue is possible. And that’s a beautiful thing. Kudos this time to our amazing art faculty: Frank Jackson, Amrita Lash, and Ben Ripley!
(Can I toot Buxton’s horn a little bit more here? As egotistical as it sounds, I think Buxton has had a real impact on the students and art departments at other schools over the past seven years that the Teen Invitational has been held. The first year of the show, our art was markedly different from the work at any other school: the paintings were bigger, the projects were more ambitious, the variety of work and media was markedly more diverse. And in the intervening years, it’s been harder and harder to point out the Buxton kids’ work before looking at the signs underneath. How can this not be a good thing?)
Buxton has been busy representing off-campus in other ways as well this spring. As part of an initiative by a brand-new consortium of progressive boarding schools (of which we are a founding member), I got to present on our Urban Intensive Trip at the Small Boarding Schools Association conference, and will be doing so again in May at the IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) conference in Denver. Our panel is about progressive education generally, and then each of the schools is highlighting a program or aspect of our school that illustrates/exemplifies progressive-ed in action. Choosing to talk about our annual trip was a no-brainer!
We’ve also stared to host alumni, parents, and friends gatherings around the country. We were in New York City in February, San Francisco in late March (with current parents Cami and Nick Lennett organizing and hosting the event—thanks, you two!), in Boston this past weekend (with Mimi and Tom Rutledge, parents of a recent grad, as hosts—gracias!), and we’ll be in Philly in a few weeks at the restaurant of Buxton grad/Buxton parent Grant Brown. Our goal with these events is to extend the incredible sense of community kids get while they’re here into the larger Buxton network. So, if we have one of these in your area, please come! We love being in touch, hearing your stories, and getting your ideas about how to spread the word and strengthen the school.
And speaking of strengthening the school, did you know that some Buxton parents recently donated the funds to replace all of the windows in the Main House??!? Isn’t that amazing! Like all independent schools—and particularly like all small independent schools—Buxton relies on the generosity of our parents and alums to help keep the school vibrant and sound. We have an extremely generous scholarship program, and we KNOW that’s to everyone’s benefit. But that’s only possible with the funding and support of everyone who believes in this school. As the parent of a recent graduate, I can say with complete sincerity that I am so glad and grateful that she had Buxton in her life. I imagine most of you who are reading this newsletter feel the same. And, fortuitously, our board of directors has recently agreed to match (one-to-one!) the donations of any first-time donors this spring. So, if you haven’t given before, now’s the time. And if you have, Thank You! And, hey, if you feel like giving again, I’m not going to stop you!
Okay, I should stop! I will write again soon!
All the best,