Last night’s academic convocation celebrated the stunning success of our students in the classroom, but it also celebrated the way our experiences within the classroom can have a stunning impact on our lives.
At last night’s ceremony, Head of School Steve Griffin announced the permanent renaming of our 10th Grade Departmental Award in Visual Arts. Ms. Hastings then had the honor of bestowing the Jo-Ann Hastings Award to its first recipient, Marie Hua.
“The Jo-Ann Hastings Award in the Visual Arts recognizes the contribution of Jo-Ann Hastings, MacDuffie Visual Art teacher from 1986 to 2019. This award recognizes the qualities that Ms. Hastings encourages: technical excellence, creativity, and the understanding that through perseverance, one can always improve one’s artwork,” said Griffin.
As Ms. Hastings enters retirement after 33 years, she brings with her a magnolia tree gifted during the ceremony.
These are some photographs of last night’s academic convocation. A complete honor roll list is forthcoming.
The MacDuffie School held an official ribbon cutting ceremony this morning to celebrate the completion of a new synthetic turf field. Head of School Steve Griffin expressed thanks to the hard-working team of individuals who helped the project come to a realization.
A special thanks to Mountain View Construction, Milone and MacBroom Architects, Construction Solutions Group, Andrew Parker and Meirion George for driving the project internally.
With slit film and monofilament, the turf’s dual fibers are meant to mimic the feel of a real grass playing field. It will be enjoyed by boys’ and girls’ soccer as well as girls’ lacrosse for both home games and practices.
Griffin said to the student-athletes, “This field is for you.” It will be enjoyed by all of The MacDuffie School sports teams, the students and their families for years to come.
He then cut the ribbon with members of the administration and the student body present to signal the official opening of the field.
The next MacDuffie home meet is a boys’ varsity soccer game slated for Oct. 9.
A few years ago, one of our students spoke at 8th grade rite of passage about how MacDuffie had changed his perspective. This student said that he had been used to getting attention from his negative behavior. By attending MacDuffie, he was able to reinvent himself and work to get attention from the positive things that he did. He moved away from negative, cynical comments and focused on his own personal development. I was quite impressed by this fellow’s mature speech. Of course, when I mentioned it to him last week, he stated that he had no recollection of giving the speech at all! That’s fine by me, because his actions speak louder than words; he now serves on our Judiciary Council and is impressive on our Mock Trial and As Schools Match Wits teams. He has continued to choose the positive path and is recognized often for those choices.
Recently, I took the opportunity to address our freshman class during their class meeting. The topic was behavior, and I used the story of the boy and his changed perspective. I challenged our freshmen to choose the correct path–to be recognized for their positive contributions–and to encourage others to do the same. Some of our 9th grade teachers picked up this thread of conversation in their classes. I would like to encourage you to have this conversation at home with your own child, whether they are a freshman or not.
“Why do we go to school on Martin Luther King Day?” I heard that once or twice on Monday (and saw it a bit on Twitter, too).
When President Barack Obama proclaimed January 18th a Federal Holiday, he did so while urging: “I encourage all Americans to observe this day with appropriate civic, community, and service projects in honor of Dr. King and to visit www.MLKDay.govto find Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service projects across our country.”
This year, we invited Dr. Michael Thurston, Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College to campus. His presentation tied MLK’s legacy to contemporary works by writer Ta-Nehesi Coates (author of 2015 National Book Award for nonfiction winner BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME), poet Robin Coste Lewis (author of the 2015 National Book Award for poetry winner THE VOYAGE OF THE SABLE VENUS), and hip hop recording artist Kendrick Lamar ( his 2015 work, TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY, received a number of critical accolades).
Dr. King’s work represents Community, Integrity, Respect, and Leadership. As components of our CIRLCE values, these ideals provide a lens through which we can understand and continue a dialogue about his ideas. We’ll do even better job of educating our school population about Dr. King’s legacy and engaging in service in the future. I have challenged our School Administration to come up with an appropriate civic, community, and service project for The MacDuffie School to undertake in 2017.
The end of the year is often a time to reflect upon the past and to ponder the future. This has been another year of momentous change at The MacDuffie School, marked by growth of the student body and a change of ownership. With the change has come progress in the form of exciting projects. We have made strong commitments:
— to our entire student body (student lounge furniture and…a snack!)
— to accessibility (the LULA elevator project)
— to our Boarders (new common room furniture)
— to making Granby our permanent home (a new entrance with a MacDuffie seal and new signage)
— to the environment (a recycling program; new water fountains)
The future holds even more promise of enhanced programs and enhanced facilities–it’s an exciting time to be a member of the MacDuffie community. However, with all of this talk of programs and facilities, we must remember to thank parents for making a commitment to MacDuffie. It truly is all about providing a superlative experience to a great group of young men and women and helping to achieve our mission for each one of them.
I wish you a peaceful December break; I hope that many of you are able to reconnect with family and friends, and I look forward to our start of classes on Tuesday, January 5th.