Head's Letter - February 2018

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Just last week, I was speaking with two leadership students about how challenging the month of February can be. The days are still short, the weather is often cold, and the start of a second semester is now squarely behind us. And lately, I find myself trying to digest the news that comes streaming on my iPod, phone, and laptop, and wondering: how do we stay positive, and forward-thinking, in light of recent events? My remarks at assembly focused on being the antidote by focusing on putting good energy into the universe, and remembering that we are so fortunate to be in a community that values and appreciates difference, and works to understand one another at a deeper level.

On Thursday, February 15th, our students, staff, and faculty gathered to kick off a weekend-long celebration of the Lunar New Year. Students from China, Taiwan, and Korea shared stories, games, and traditions of how each of their cultures celebrates this special time. The festivities continued on Saturday and Sunday with special meals and activities on and off campus, and throughout the weekend I was reminded how lucky we are to enjoy a community that welcomes people from all around the world, sharing traditions together and learning from one another.


February is also a time when we take time to recognize Black History Month with special assemblies and weekly tidbits designed to encourage conversation and questions about the world as it was, and as it can be. On the lighter side, we also celebrate Valentine's Day - ask your student about the original singing and dancing Valentines many of them sent to friends and faculty. It’s also a time when a new semester provides an opportunity for students and faculty to reset. I was recently invited to chaperone an excursion with our art history class, taught by Jennifer TumSuden, to the Harvard Art Museums. I spent the day with students from all majors, exploring the galleries, and completing a scavenger hunt designed to help them become familiar with a variety of styles and periods the class would be studying this semester.


As we head into March, I look forward to my annual Asia trip. Each year, I am fortunate to travel to a variety of cities throughout Asia to visit with current students and their families, alumni, and prospective families. In the eight years I have visited, I have come to make many new friends and establish meaningful relationships with a diverse group of people who make up the extended Walnut Hill community.


Our school is fortunate to attract students and alumni from every part of the world and our annual trip to Asia serves as an opportunity for me to foster and nurture those relationships. This year, Jim Woodside, Director of Artistic Studies and head of Visual Art, and Lela Paultre, Assistant Director of Admission and Financial Aid, will join me again as we visit six cities in two weeks including Taipei, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Singapore. In that spirit of global community, as we celebrated the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, I wanted to also share a post and some photos from my many visits to Seoul.

I wanted to take a moment to wish a very happy new year to all of our families who celebrated the Lunar New Year. As March approaches I know you will be thinking of spring break, and I hope that the time with your young artists is a relaxing and enjoyable one. I also look forward to seeing many of you when you return on March 26th for second semester Parent-Teacher conferences.

Most Sincerely,
Antonio Viva
Head of School