Upper School Director Page Stites shares his thoughts heading into the 2023-24 School Year.
As I write this, we’re eagerly gearing up for another school year here at Field. We’re excited to be joined in the Upper School by a dynamic, talented, and diverse new group of 9th graders, as well as a handful of new 10th and 11th graders. We’re also very excited about the progress on our new science labs, which are looking beautiful and will be a tremendous addition to our science program. Although there’s still plenty of summer left, I’m looking forward to the start of the year and the opportunity it brings to reconnect with all of the wonderful students, parents, and colleagues who make up this amazing community.
I had the luxury of a month off this summer, which I spent in Massachusetts with my family. There was lots of down time, trips to the beach, connecting with old friends, and other summery pursuits, but my big project for the summer was completing a treehouse I started building with my kids a few years back. For me, finishing the project was a chance to reconnect with the part of me that loves building things, using my hands, and solving puzzles and problems. I find it satisfying to go to sleep with an idea tickling the back of my mind and to wake up with an insight about how I’ll cut a piece of plywood or make use of the materials I have on hand.
One of the ways I tried to disconnect this summer while working on this project was to make the conscious choice to be “device free” for a significant portion of each day. I was surprised at how much extra advance planning this required me to do - for example, I actually had to make firm plans with people if we wanted to meet up instead of my now-normal “I’ll text you when I get there.” It took me a few somewhat antsy days at the start of the month to forget what it felt like to be a glance away from the wider world, but as I settled into a routine I found myself more relaxed and more engaged with my immediate surroundings, my family, and the present moment.
In the couple of weeks that I’ve been back, I’ve found myself being more deliberate about not checking my phone and, so far, I’ve been able to hold onto at least a part of that feeling of presence and engagement. It’s a good reminder that, while it would be difficult and perhaps not even desirable to revert to a simpler, less-connected time, it is possible and worthwhile to press “pause” every now and then. One of my own intentions for the coming school year is to remember this lesson, and to try to find ways to put it into at least semi-regular practice.
Here’s to an exciting 2023-2024 school year filled with deliberate focus and awareness of the present moment!
Upper School Director
Note: Please read through this issue of the Falcon Press to make sure you have all of the important back-to-school events on your calendar.