January 20, 2017

Next Friday January 27 is our school's 19th birthday: Charter Day. Birthdays are a time for celebration and fun. Stanwich students and faculty celebrate whenever opportunities arise, not just on special occasions like Charter Day, but also in birthday celebrations in assemblies, and achievement recognition in the classroom. 

On January 27, we look forward to our morning assembly at which time SueSue Drennen, member of Stanwich Grade 9 graduating class of 2008, will speak; Barrie Richmond will deliver our traditional birthday cake; and I will present the Board of Trustees Humanitarian Grant award to one of our teachers. Later in the day, Senior House students will work with some of the younger classes on various curricular projects. That evening beginning at 6:00pm in the gym, the Parent Association and faculty will lead fun family games, about which more will be communicated next week ( click here to purchase tickets). 

However, beyond the celebratory fun, birthdays are a time for reassessment and reflection. Symbolized by its namesake Janus - looking back on the past year and forward to the months to come - January is naturally a reflective month. Those of us with birthdays this month, according to horoscopic pundits, tend naturally to be more serious and reflective than our water or air sign friends. With the eventful, tumultuous 2016 behind us, the resulting cultural and political ch anges make us particularly thoughtful of our course and the needs of others in this world. The spirit of the Stanwich mission seems more important than ever before in my lifetime.

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." 1 Corinthians 13:11.  Stanwich is about preserving the innocent joys of childhood as long as possible in our students, and allowing us Stanwich adults to vicariously appreciate and reconnect with childhood's happy times. Concurren tly however, we are committed to providing our students practice at being more maturely reflective and thoughtfully intentional and self-aware in their relationships. As second grader Alice Fitts recently commented: "I've been at Stanwich for three years and I've learned a lot about my friends, a lot about my teachers, and I've learned a lot about myself."

During Stanwich's youthful early years, we grew rapidly in all directions - seemingly simultaneously. Our institutional teenaged years included huge challenges resulting in both great successes and disappointments. As we approach next year, the institutional maturity of a twenty year old young adult school, we are wiser, more deliberate, and better balanced in integrating the joyful qualities that defined our early days with a more maturely balanced ability to communicate our purpose and our future direction. 

Our national culture, international economic realities, and global climate are changing more rapidly than anyone could have predicted even five years ago. Stanwich's size and our youth make us uniquely nimble and responsive both to external trends as well as to individual student and family needs and circumstances. By paying attention, reflecting carefully, and communicating thoughtfully, Stanwich can respond educationally to the changes. Potentially disconcerting reactions to change can instead be evolutionary advancements. 

Ben Franklin is alleged to have coined the aphorism, "When one has finished changing, one is finished."  In that regard Stanwich is in a good place, and our students are in a good place at Stanwich. Stanwich's best years are yet to come. Of the various pleasures in life, anticipatory pleasure - anticipating achievement and success yet to come - ranks high, and there is a great deal in that regard about which Stanwich adults and students can feel optimistic.  Stanwich's recent significant investment in professional development, renovations to our physical spaces, better materials by which to communicate the Stanwich mission, and our on-going curricular revisions all shift our attention from a happy past to a bright future. 

In that regard we look forward to welcoming Jane Reed, our advisor in the implementation of the IBDP in Grades 11 and 12, to Stanwich next week to work with our Steering committee and faculty.  Also next week, the new Stanwich website launches, and all current families will receive copies of the new Stanwich inspiration publication that will be used in Admissions. I will share more information about that initiative early next week. 

On the 27th we will celebrate not just the past but also an exciting, if not now fully understood, future. Here is to Stanwich's 19th year and a successful and joyful 2017. 

Charles Sachs
Head of School