Salvete and welcome to another year at The Academy. This week our talented faculty, dedicated staff, and ambitious students all come together to begin the great projects of learning and living which constitute Academy life. I can’t describe to you what a joy it is to welcome your children into the school: while we enjoy the relative quiet that summer brings, a school just feels like an empty vessel without the natural bustle and energy of students. To see them in the hallways, in their classes, chatting around a table; to hear the sounds of the piano in Sumner Recital Hall or the passing strum of a ukulele outside of my office: these are the little joys that make this job the best in the world.
I’m also pleased to welcome so many new families into our Academy community this year. We have new students in every grade, 8-12 as well as an engaging group of seventh graders. We had a great time at the seventh grade picnic marveling at these young adults taking their first (albeit timid) steps into a much larger world, knowing that even at a special place such as The Academy, risk can be fearful. The staff and I take seriously that parents put their trust in us to watch over their children. More than just teaching, we think of ourselves as partners in your most-important job of being parents. We’re always here to talk, and we know you are always there, following, supporting, pushing, and releasing them to grow into the fine adults we all see them becoming.
We have some exciting new Studio Blocks and a new Honors program coming this year, as well as a revamped Advisory program which is sequenced according to the development needs of different aged children. The Studio Blocks continue to encourage students to explore the arts as creators of ideas and beauty (see the latest Vox for more about Studio Blocks) and Advisory will continue to support students as human beings and give them a chance to form stronger bonds with students and an adult. New this year is Honors: this self-selecting program will allow for students to explore areas of scholastic interest dear to them. The Honors classes (available to grades 9-11 this year in Humanities and Science) offer no additional credit, no boost to a GPA, and no tangible rewards other than the opportunity to develop a more in-depth knowledge of something which piques one’s intellectual interests. I’m excited about this offering because I enjoy helping students push themselves without feeling the pressure of grades.
Building on some great successes last year, students are signing up for Leadership Councils. The Honor Code re-drafting, the Backpack Drive, and the Walking the Talk for Racial Justice Conference were just a few of the programs that Councils oversaw last year. These Councils remain the moral backbone of our school and provide opportunities for students to develop leadership skills while advancing causes which are personal and important to them. I cannot wait to see what they do this year!
This year is a grand opportunity. The Academy provides the space for students to reach, to strive, to push themselves beyond their limits, and to do so in an environment which is supportive of that risk-taking. The Academy provides the space for quiet children to try to be talkative, and for gregarious children to learn some reserve; it gives kids who think they love science a chance to explore poetry and musicians the exciting introduction they need to Calculus. Here, children can be who they want to try to become, and in the processes of creativity, research, invention, and reinvention, find their authentic selves. Let us all commit ourselves to the pursuit of excellence in all we do, to grow as scholars and moral beings, and to find the strength to ask for help and to support those who need it, both within our community and without. Let us take the 2017-18 year and make it formative for ourselves, for our families, and for our community. Welcome to the new year at The Academy!
Dr. Brian D. Bloomfield
Head of School