By noon on February 1st this year, Oakwood had more snow on the ground than the last half decade of Februarys combined. As the nor’easter continued to intensify, my son continued to eye the recycling nervously, having been tasked to deliver it across campus by the dining hall the night before.
Procrastination was rewarded with gale-force winds and intensifying snowfall. Resolved to fate, contents lashed to toboggan, he set upon his journey.
Inspiration reveals itself in the oddest times. Small moments of resolve, creativity, and commitment have been on display every day on the Oakwood campus this year. Families, faculty, students, and our community adapt. This fall we prepared for and supported in-person learning with no disruption in schedule and no COVID cases within the student/faculty/staff community. This winter, as data shifted, we focused on health, well-being, and academic support of students with a move to remote learning. And now, with several of our boarding students already back in the dorms, we are preparing for a supportive and engaging spring term of in-person learning.
Resolve, creativity, flexibility, and understanding have strengthened our programming this year and are laying a foundation of growth and expansion for years to come. Faculty invent new ways of learning in real-time, preparing double lessons each week for remote and in-person classes. Students adapt with conversations, labs, performances, presentations, and weekly Silent Meeting - supported by Zoom across cities and continents. Despite COVID’s isolation, we remain deeply connected.
As we adapt, students, parents, and community members join for online discussions. ‘Oakie’s’ from the 1940’s create art with current middle schoolers and their parents during virtual evening workshops. Board, alumni, and friends continue to invest in our future. And while the pandemic restricted movement, we creatively looked forward, completing a two-million-dollar major theater renovation; a project 100 years in the making!
This year has expanded our thinking and deepened our connections. With students returning to the dorms and the promise of spring only weeks away, I can think of no better time to be part of this Oakwood community. I am excited for the work ahead… and if there is another nor'easter this month, I will let Andy sleep in and pull the next toboggan across campus myself.
Chad Cianfrani, Head of School