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HEADlines: Head’s Thanksgiving Message

27 Nov

We have a busy 17 school days between now and the New Year, and much for which to give thanks. On my list of items for which to be grateful are how engaged and curious our students are, how committed and creative our faculty is, how strong and clearly understood our community values are, and how much so many volunteers do to make Applewild such a terrific place in which children grow and thrive. On my list this year is also our Child Development Center. The CDCA has added wonderful energy and broadened our perspective about the learning process.

I am also grateful for all the ways we at Applewild model our Core Value of civic-mindedness through civic-engagement. Fourth and fifth grade students will decorate one of the holiday trees to be displayed at the Fitchburg Art Museum for the holidays. Art teacher Sara Sanford is delighted that the students will interpret the Egyptian exhibit, perfect for what they study in fifth grade. Each student has created an ornament for the tree, and they will be installed on December 3rd and up through December.

Todd Goodwin has let me know that the Applewild community raised $552.87 for UNICEF over Halloween, more than last year’s total! The Thanksgiving season is when we conduct the Oxfam Fast for our older students and the Hunger Banquet for sixth grade: 76% of our Upper School students and several adults will be fasting to raise money to support Oxfam, which incidentally has a strong presence in the Philippines. These choices promote being reflective about our role in society, about civic-mindedness, and about compassion.

Service also includes the several younger siblings of fourth and fifth graders volunteering eagerly to help Chef Jeff Palmieri stack the chairs after the SRO pizza dinner before the Radio Play – and the families who stayed after the Fall Sports Night to help Kyle Gillis clean up. We also enjoyed a very productive service afternoon in Upper School on November 8 working mostly outside in the upper garden and around the grounds. That helped the campus look wonderful for our Admission Open House on November 16.

“ …(We) enjoyed the French “Little Bird Tales” that Katy Niose helped the students create. My thanks to her for offering what was a very popular French Club after school in October. The third grade’s Colonial Days celebration was another of the special days at Applewild, in which faculty connect across disciplines and help students experience their learning directly to assure that students make connections and are most likely to internalize what they learn. The fourth grade Freedom Trail trip was another such opportunity, as are our service connections with Highlands, ARC, and Head Start.

The fourth and fifth grade Radio Play production of A Christmas Carol is another such example – and a wonderful expression of our Core Competencies and Core Values. Congratulations to Kevin Brodeur and Erin Schlesinger for a delightful show. As one parent noted afterward, the importance of teamwork was so clear without even needing to be mentioned. That notion of collaboration, of cooperating, of being responsible for yourself and to others, was definitely in evidence, as was the level of autonomy displayed by the students. The format of the Radio Play encourages students to develop greater comfort on stage, too, all part of our emphasis on presentation skills.

We will use our traditional Thanksgiving Feast as an opportunity to strengthen community by having one full school sitting for lunch, with buddies sitting together. We will combine our “feast” with the traditional end-of-day assembly, with grace being the Governor’s Proclamation. Erin Schlesinger has been teaching students Dona Nobis Pacem, which we will sing to close the meal. I have enjoyed seeing many expressions of thankfulness posted by all ages, from cartoons in the Crocker Wing to Gobble Gobble Turkeys in Lower School. I will share with our students at the meal what our CDCA children are thankful for:

– my mom, my dad, my brother and my sister

– paw patrol

– my mom kissing me

– going to a monster truck show

– my kitties

– my sisters

– (and, of course, my favorite!) for my grandma and grampa

Have a wonderful family Thanksgiving, and enjoy the excitement of the holiday season that follows!

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