Sue’s News 10/10/19

A blog from the Head of School

Vol. 2, No. 4 – October 10, 2019

  • The All School Retreat was a resounding success. Epic weather, great leadership (thanks especially to Sara Hall-Kennedy for shepherding her first retreat as Dean of Students in fine fashion), and a willingness on everyone’s part to step out of their comfort zones made this annual adventure a memorable one.
  • OA is in the power outage zone and school is closed. We will be in touch with updates, but at this point, we hope and expect school to be open for business on Tuesday, October 15. Our Virtual Day (Wednesday), Professional Development Day (Friday), and Indigenous People’s Day (Monday) mean that we are missing only one instructional day. I hope you and your family remain safe for the duration if your power is off.

Coming Around the Corner – Help OA Thrive!

  • This year’s Annual Fund, OA 2020 Vision, kicks off this week (due to the school closure, you may not receive your fund letter in the mail until late next week). 2020 Vision is about imagining OA’s future and making our dreams a reality. Our goal is to raise $100,000, which will go to enhance our science labs and outdoor spaces. Tuition does not cover the cost of an OA education. The school relies on the generosity of current and alumni parents, grandparents, alumni, and friends to bridge the gap. Please consider what OA means to you and your child and join us In envisioning a bright future for the school.
  • Our first Open House for prospective families is scheduled for Sunday, October 20, from 1-3 p.m. If you would like to participate on a parent panel or help with check-in, please contact Janet at janet@orindaacademy.org. Admissions season is an important time for the school, as we communicate who we are and why we’re unique to the broader community. Please take a moment in the next few weeks to tell your OA story to a friend or colleague who has a child in middle school and encourage them to come to an OA Open House (the second one is December 7).

Sue’s Muse

I start off most school retreats feeling the same way many students do: apprehensive, a little negative, looking for things to go wrong. But then, a few hours in, something in me shifts and I’m able to understand the purpose of the whole endeavor. By hour three, I feel liberated from my phone and get interested in the natural world again, and this frees me up to enjoy myself.

During this retreat, at about hour four, we hiked down to the beach. Sara Hall-Kennedy and I picked up the rear with two students and had a most enjoyable conversation. It started off with me not knowing which path to take (both led to our destination, but one more directly), then the students giving me a hard time because I didn’t know where I was going, then me defending myself, albeit not very convincingly, that I very much did know where I was going, then the students predicting what animals would come and eat us because their Head of School didn’t know where she was going, then me saying they were being way too dramatic for a simple walk to the beach, then the students pointing out that there were coyotes all over the place, then me saying we’d probably get eaten by raccoons instead, and that this wouldn’t make a very good story.

The banter continued all the way to the beach, and we took it from there.

For the next few hours I witnessed the following: students racing each other on the hardened sand; students pushing the “only up to your knees” policy in the surf; footballs and volleyballs being thrown between teams; students sitting on the rocky shore taking pictures and chatting; a lively and oddly competitive “name that tune” game. Students actually frolicked, if you can believe it. It was a great sight.

These days it takes a lot of planning to create “spontaneous” fun, but it’s worth it, and it’s why OA does this retreat every year. For most of the retreat, no one was on a phone, kids were talking to each other, and they were playing. That’s right, playing! Sure, there were some grumpy teenage moments but, whatever, that’s to be expected. But we were all in it together for 24 hours straight, and this is what facilitates and deepens community.

When I think about why I’m at OA I think of experiences like the one I had walking to the beach on the retreat. Not particularly noteworthy, to be sure, but important nevertheless. The truth is those students didn’t really want to go on the excursion—each was apprehensive for various reasons—but they stuck with it. They embarked upon an unknown path, had moments of doubt, managed their anxiety, and made it to their destination in one piece. And we did it side by side, supporting one another along the way.

This is the value of the OA experience. We are all in it together—we’ve got each other’s backs—and hopefully, at least sometimes, we make each other laugh.

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