After Apple Picking
September 18, 2020
I’m just back from apple picking at Shelburne Orchard today, just the start of the harvest. The warm afternoon sun and the strong but not cooling breeze remind me this is the beginning of things. We’ll be picking apples for weeks, watching the leaves change and fall–which is just starting–play out its lovely shift in our seasons and in us. Two weeks into school, and it’s still the start of things, but a good start, a solid start. The beginnings of the foundation for the year. It’s why we wait to do Back-to-School Night for you until this coming week: we want to be off to a good start and have everything rolling so you have a sense of whom you’re coming to see and hear speak about their classes and you know what questions you want to ask. We’ll send out the Zoom links at the beginning of the week to you, but keep in mind that after the first welcoming session for everyone together (6 – 6:30 p.m., Tuesday), you’ll be in an hour-long slot with the other parents/guardians who have kids in the same Core Group as your own. The first half of that will be presentations from the faculty who teach that Core Group, and the second half will be another chance to connect with fellow parents/guardians (either a follow up on gatherings from this week or, if you’ve not gotten together yet, your first chance to connect with your peers). As you can probably tell, we’re trying to make ample opportunity for parents and guardians to connect at the start of the year, to build your own foundations with each other from the start. And we understand some of your parent/guardian core groups are naturally seeking ways to come together or bring your kids together on your own time as well. Community is indeed so important and so supportive of all that we try to do at Vermont Commons. Please do everything you can–you see us doing everything we can each time we bring students together–to practice safe habits should you choose to gather. The mantra we’ve been operating under has four parts: small group size, outside, in masks, and physically distant of at least 6 feet. Small size, outside, masks, 6-feet. Pretty easy to remember; naturally hard for young people to enact (!). Important for all of us.
I remember sitting with an army general in Northern Ghana at a social gathering at his base several years ago, on an equally gorgeous Friday afternoon. The talk ranged across a variety of topics, but at one point when it turned to the topic of his work, he explained that the military in Ghana worked very hard to keep Ghana Ghana. This meant working hard to support the democratic institutions so valiantly (and peacefully) worked for and won, and it meant working at the borders to make sure Ghana didn’t go the way of some of its less fortunate neighbors. I think of his statement a lot these days, even more so this week when Dr. Fauci praised the success of Vermont in the COVID crisis and in the same breath reminded us–along with Governor Scott–to remain vigilant. We all are going to have to continue to work very hard to keep Vermont Vermont through all of this. We are committed–as challenging as it is for us, and believe me it is!–to doing our part. We ask you–particularly as you think about and talk about community and socializing and social life with your children–to share in this, to do your part, and remind them of the four key elements–small size, outside, masks, 6-feet.
We are absolutely going to get to the other side of this. And we will remember and be glad we made the good choices now that set us up for a better future when we do get to the other side. Good stewardship of our community is like good environmental stewardship. The wise choice now makes for a strong future. Thank you for your help and support in this. We need it, we need this togetherness, this particular strength of and in our community like never before.