This has been another memorable year at Ellis. Some people might remember it as a sometimes challenging second year of the pandemic, but I prefer to think of it as a year of reconnection. We were delighted to have all our students back on campus, learning together again in community. Yes, we spent much of the year in masks, but we were able to restart so many of the activities that we missed last year, and that played such an important role in giving our students, faculty, staff, and families a chance to build relationships, grow, and play together.
Our athletic teams had full, busy competition seasons, our actors, musicians, and dancers had many more opportunities to perform in front of live audiences, our students were able to experience horizon-expanding field trips again, and our families and alumnae were able to come back on campus for celebrations and gatherings. Did it feel like a completely “normal” pre-COVID year? No, but we were able to enjoy so many of the kinds of community moments that build a sense of connection and joy. Some of our most closely held beliefs at Ellis are that students learn best by learning in community, that our students thrive when they are known and loved for who they really are, and that they become known and loved when they can connect in authentic and meaningful ways with each other and with the adults who teach, coach, and advise them.
The year also brought some wonderful new developments, including the launch of a long-awaited renovation of our Middle School science spaces. During my five years at Ellis, we’ve been able to update most of our student-centered spaces, but a big exception has been our Middle School science classrooms. Built in the 1970s, these spaces were originally designed and outfitted for high school students, with static furniture that may have suited a style of instruction that was popular then, but that no longer supports the flexible, project-based, collaborative approach we favor. With the support of generous parents, alumnae, past parents, and trustees, we have raised over $1.2 million dollars to fully fund a complete renovation of these classrooms. Demolition began on June 6, and we anticipate teaching in the new spaces early this fall. Our science teachers can not wait!
These last couple of years have asked a lot of us as a school family. I couldn’t be prouder of, or more grateful to, our students, faculty, staff, and families for their flexibility, patience, good humor, and care for each other. I want to particularly lift up our graduating seniors. COVID has been a part of three of their four high school years, but you would never know it if you watched their remarkable growth as young adults, their sophistication as scholars, artists, and athletes, their joy in each other’s company, and their strong desire to go out and make a difference in the world. They have made us so proud.