January 26, 2016

Dear Parents, 

I reveled in this weekend's winter weather without worrying about whether or not to call a snow day. On our first school day with snow on the hill, sledding was as popular with Senior House as with the younger grades. My mental camera captured a classic Stanwich picture of the older students sledding with the younger on a beautiful "bluebird day." Many schools now prohibit sledding-and spurn singing patriotic songs and rule out prayer. I am thankful that Stanwich is not one of them.  Such seemingly small traditional aspects of our daily life at Stanwich distinguish our school these days and truly reflect the educational advantages of our unique mission. 

Many parents no doubt saw the recent news articles about the Turning the Tide report in which selective colleges critique the admission process and the recast qualities of the applicants they desire. The university initiative intends to promote greater ethical engagement, reduce excessive achievement pressure, and level the playing field for economically disadvantaged students: all essential components of Pat Young's seminal vision for Stanwich and areas in which Stanwich shines. The complete report from the Harvard School of Education is available through The Stanwich School Facebook page, which we encourage all parents, students and alumni with Facebook accounts to befriend. 

In affirmation of Stanwich's remarkable culture and exceptional program, we have all been gratified at the strong philanthropic support from parents for this year's Annual Fund. Current participation is roughly double over last year and we hope by June 30 to exceed our goal of $850,000. Thanks to all those who have contributed so generously-or soon will. I can assure you that we will use our community's generous investments well to support programmatic advancements and professional development that will pay dividends to our students. 

While I was drinking tea and watching snow fall Saturday, the Stanwich Squash Team spent the weekend at Yale winning the U.S. Middle School Team Squash Championship, Boys' Division III. Congratulations to the team, and thanks to Coach Merilyn Stephens and the Stanwich parents and friends who cheered them on. Coach Stephens said, "They had tremendous composure and were very supportive amongst each other. They brought their athletic experience to the squash court, and used their grit, experience, and good judgment to win the title." 

Thanks to the perseverance and determination of the Board of Trustees' Facilities Committee, early next month contractors will begin working on the campus curb appeal and facility assets. Construction workers will be addressing the rock piles behind the main parking area by crushing the boulders and leveling the piles of rock to create two outdoor recreational areas. Although faculty parking will be affected during the process, the work will not interfere with our program, and should not affect pick-up/drop-off procedures. We are hopeful that at least one of the new grass playing surfaces will be ready for use in September. 

Among other good news, next year we are offering a half-day option for our Pre-school program, which begins at age 3. If you have any friends or family with children who may be interested in Wildwood's charming and unique early learning environment, we encourage you to send them this link to our Wildwood video. We appreciate all the parents and students who participated so impressively in last week's well-attended Admission Open House. 

You will soon be receiving re-enrollment forms for the 2016-2017 school year electronically. As I know that you recognize the academic and holistic benefits of a Stanwich education, I trust that you will return your completed re-enrollment forms with the necessary deposit at your earliest convenience. Re-enrollment numbers and patterns are the essential first component of next month's process determining staffing needs and teacher assignments for the new year. In addition, it is very important to complete any financial aid applications as soon as possible. Annually, we budget approximately 15% of our anticipated gross tuition for financial aid assistance; once decisions are made and awards communicated, funding may be limited for late applications.  If you have any questions or concerns about re-enrollment or financial aid, please let me know.

This month marks Stanwich's 18th birthday and we look forward to celebrating the achievement this coming Friday, January 29 with our traditional all school Charter Day assembly during the day and an adult celebration also that evening sponsored by the Parent Association. At the morning assembly, Stanwich Founding Head Pat Young will join us to reflect upon the birth of the school and to introduce our alumni guest speaker, Nicolas Consuegra, a graduate of the University of Michigan, currently working at NBC Universal. You are welcome to attend both events though please rsvp to the evening event.  If you have not already done so here is the link to confirm your attendance at the parent event.

Please note that the 2016-2017 Stanwich Academic Year Calendar is posted on our website for your trip planning purposes. 

Our "Afters" program offerings continue to expand. Among the educational opportunities currently being planned is a woodshop option for IH students this spring. If families have tools in good condition that they would be interested in donating to our new woodshop planned for the former chicken coop of St. Agnes, please let me know. 

Recently, Stanwich formed a parent/faculty steering committee to initiate the process of becoming a Connecticut Green Leaf School. The first step of the process involves assessing the healthy, sustainable practices of our school community, a process that should involve student teams from each of the Houses. Stay tuned for more information on this important educational initiative. 

Finally, we continue to devote significant energy to refining and enhancing the academic program. A task force comprised of Board members, administrators, faculty and parents has been established to investigate the feasibility and desirability of augmenting the Senior House curriculum with the highly regarded International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. The work of the task force is in the early and exploratory stages; we will keep you informed as its work progresses.

Winter is a busy, happy and productive time at Stanwich; and as always we encourage your involvement and support in whatever way that might be possible for you. 

Charles Sachs
Head of School