July 25, 2023

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As we move into the second half of the summer and the opening of school begins to come into sharper focus, I am glad to have this opportunity to check in with all of you. I hope that you have managed to have a nice June and July to this point with a lot of fun still ahead before we begin welcoming students to campus over Labor Day weekend. For returning parents and guardians, we are very much looking forward to building on the experience your children have had to this point. And, I am particularly pleased to have this opportunity to welcome all of you who are parents and guardians at Brooks for the first time. We are extremely excited about beginning to get to know you better and are on our way to a great school year!

By this point, I am confident that you have received a lot of information from the school covering all sorts of areas and aspects of life at Brooks. It is likely there will be more to come as we move into August and opening day draws closer. While I know my colleagues have invited you to reach out to them if you have any questions, I do want to underline our hope that you will let us know if we can be helpful in any way over the next month. Whether you are a new or returning parent or guardian, there are lots of variables every year, and we want to be sure we do all we can to answer any questions you have. 

Much like my colleagues, if you have questions about this letter, or anything else that is on your mind, please let me know. 

It has now been nearly one month since the United States Supreme Court rendered decisions that prohibit the use of race in college and university admission practices, and that support a business’ right to refuse to work with a same-sex couple on account of their sexual orientation. With concern about both decisions continuing to circulate, I want to underline our school’s unequivocal belief that the diversity in our community, broadly defined, is at the core of our school’s strength.

We all learn in a countless number of scripted and unscripted ways from the many differences in our community. As we head into the 2023–2024 school year, we remain determined to do all we can to continue building a diverse student and adult community rich with the kinds of differences that are essential to realizing our mission to deliver the most meaningful educational experience our students will have in their lives. It feels important to make that clear in the wake of these decisions.

Our College Counseling Office has been in touch with members of the class of 2024 to open a line of communication with anyone in the class who has questions about the evolving college application landscape. You can access their letter HERE. In addition, we will continue to be in regular conversations with peer schools, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the Enrollment Management Association (EMA), and other regional and national independent school consortiums. As we learn more in these conversations, we are feeling confident about our current standing and ability to continue attracting and enrolling wonderfully diverse applicants to our school. 

We will be stepping more fully into the heart of our centennial campaign in the coming year with Genuine Belonging as one of three pillars of the effort. At all levels of our school, the commitment to being a diverse community and doing well with the diversity we are so privileged to learn with and from is absolute. This means doing all we can to ensure that everyone in our community feels a deep sense of belonging at Brooks. To continue to make good on this commitment in ways that go far beyond what any letter of mine might convey constitutes the work that lies ahead. We look forward to it.

While our campus remains an active and busy place through the summer months, we are also hard at work moving capital projects forward and readying the school for student arrivals at the end of the summer. For those of you who are heading into your third year or more as a parent or guardian at Brooks, you know that we are through a lot of work that has transformed the feel and function of our school from Wilder Dining Hall all the way to our classroom building — a stretch of campus we affectionately call Main Street. It is so nice to be starting a full year with this work complete and construction fences nowhere in sight! 

In terms of pending projects, the work on our boathouse is nearly complete, and we are thrilled to have this truly magnificent facility ready to go. Needless to say, our crew program will draw tremendously from this space so beautifully situated on an especially picturesque spot on our campus. Beyond the crew program’s use of the space, however, we are very much looking forward to the ways in which the building will activate the surrounding area with some new walking trails and more opportunities for school gatherings of all kinds. In addition to the boathouse, we will be constructing three new faculty homes on that end of the campus over the course of the fall. We are excited to be taking this initial step in the direction of increasing the volume and quality of our faculty housing inventory. 

Looking ahead, we are poised to expand a conversation about what we hope to realize in the heart of our centennial campaign. The framework for this campaign centers on three pillars guiding our thinking in how we might position the school to head into its second century stronger than ever. In addition to taking steps that help ensure we realize Genuine Belonging for all at Brooks, we are also focused on what we might do to deepen Immersive Learning and expand our Culture of Exploration. In the coming year, we are looking forward to sharing our thinking about how we might realize these pillars more fully with student and faculty housing initiatives, a substantial and programmatically driven academic building initiative, and a broad-based effort to grow our endowment. As these plans take shape, it will be fun to engage the full breadth of our school community in where we hope to go.

On Thursday of this week, Kim and I will be departing on a trip to Asia with stops in Seoul, Hong Kong and Bangkok spanning the first 10 days. We are very much looking forward to seeing many of you at points along the way with a number of events and gatherings already scheduled. The pandemic prevented me from traveling to Asia for more than four years, and it has been 13 years since Kim and I made a comparable trip with our two children — a trip that remains dear to all of us. Thus, we are especially eager to get underway and visit with some of you and so many alums and past parents we are excited to see. 

After meeting our now much older children in Vietnam for a vacation over the second half of this trip to Asia, we will return to Brooks during the third week of August. By then, all of us at school will be moving into opening faculty meetings as we put the final touches on getting the school ready for students to begin arriving for early athletics on Friday, September 1. With all students moved in by the end of Labor Day weekend, we will be ready to begin classes on the morning of Tuesday, September 5.

Between now and then, we hope all of you enjoy the balance of the summer with family, friends and some better weather than we have experienced at Brooks to this point! We look forward to staying in touch.


John R. Packard

Head of School