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End of Year Frenzy

15 May 2020

Four weeks?  Is that really possible?

Somehow, it is.  This is the time of year when everything–everythingsuddenly moves very, very quickly, pandemic or not.  Here’s the blow by blow:

  • Next week is a half-week of regular classes, followed by two days of Encounter Experiences.
  • The following Monday, May 25th, is Memorial Day, and we are closed in observation of that national holiday.
  • The week after that is our final week of regular classes for all middle school students, grades 6-8, with the final day of classes for them being that Friday, June 5th (That’s right!  Middle School students only have three weeks of classes left!).
  • Seniors wrap up their Senior Projects that same week, by Wednesday June 3rd, at which point the second half of them present on their projects during Common Hour that morning (it’ll be a Zoom webinar all students are expected–and all parents/guardians are invited–to attend).
  • On Thursday, June 4th, students in grades 9 – 11 shift from regular content in their classes to review for their final exams or culminating assessments (projects, papers, presentations, etc.).
  • Monday, June 8th (that’s three weeks from this Monday), we kick it into high gear for our high schoolers grades 9 – 11, with exams and final assessments happening Monday through Wednesday, and then our end-of-year traditions for everyone grades 6 – 12 starting Wednesday afternoon June 10th and lasting through graduation Friday the 12th at 1 p.m. (!).  That wonderful stretch includes our annual traditions, from the MultiMedia Extravaganza and Night of Glory to Field Day, final Core Group and Advisory meetings, and Departmental Awards.

That fast, wild, wonderful frenzy that makes up the final stretch of the year is upon us!  You can know it in the calendar, you can feel it when you walk outside, you can smell it in the oncoming rain and the pollen and fresh fragrance of spring, and you can see it as the leaves and birds and grasses in the fields return.

Many folks are starting to say out loud what they’ve been thinking for some time now: what will next year look like?  I can tell you a couple of things.  As I’m sure you can imagine, we have no idea of exactly what we’ll be able to do in terms of being in the building or not being in the building, and we won’t really know until the Governor and the Health Department tell us.  So we’re undertaking serious contingency planning, with the Senior Administrative team joining state, regional, national, and international conversations, updates, and advice on the best scenario planning available.  And we’re assuming that we need to have a couple of different plans in place.  Right now, we’re not pushing the faculty to do this work, first and foremost because we want them to be able to focus on a fantastic conclusion to this school year, and second because once they’ve been able to wrap this year up, we’ll likely know much more and therefore be able to help them focus their efforts in the most productive and efficient ways possible, if need be.

One thing that has emerged from this spring’s work has been sharpening our clarity on what is absolutely at the core of a Vermont Commons education and ensuring that happens no matter what. We recognize and are excited about the fact that if we have time to plan for a disrupted educational model rather than having to do what we did this spring (react on the fly) we may be better able to maintain that core regardless of what comes our way next year.

Real learning, plentiful and meaningful growth, the connection of that learning to the world, the robust, regular, and dynamic relationship between the teacher and student, the ongoing integrity and strength of our community.  This is what I can tell you will happen next year at Vermont Commons School.

May you and yours be and stay well!

Dexter P. Mahaffey, Ph.D.
Head of School

Scholarship. Community. Global Responsibility.

At Vermont Commons School, our goal is to engage students with their world. We achieve this through programs and a curriculum grounded in local and global involvement.