And About Summer…

by Vince Durnan

It’s not the way it is in the movies when the school door gets locked and the classrooms gather dust. We shift into our high humidity mode, and here’s what that should mean:

Let’s start with the basics—the doors are open, and someone is here, every weekday, for regular business hours, with the lone exception of the 4th of July. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re open evenings, though we may host a book signing or a gathering for our neighborhood academic enrichment partnership (Horizons) with Carter Lawrence Elementary. And weekends should be quiet, unlike being just as busy day 6 and day 7 as they are from August to May. Our Operations Dept. can finally rest a little.
Well, not really. The Ops folks use summer as a time to do bigger projects that would cramp our style during regular classes. For this summer, the Gordon Wing roof is top of the heap there. The middle school is now turning 20 years old, and that means a new roof, with all the associated aromas and debris. Past that, the limestone on our historic Dem School structure will get a cleanup—and thereafter look like the limestone on all the newer structures built onto its edges. And if you get out to the River Campus you’ll see a whole crop of new bleachers coming out of the ground, thanks to USNA.
Inside the building, we’ll be painting, carpeting, and maybe moving a wall or two. And the gym floor gets its annual restorative treatment after supporting innumerable little (and not so little) feet playing innumerable games. But mostly all the inside spaces will welcome camps and workshops and programs that pop up every summer.  Imagine all our Evening Classes happening simultaneously, add a few hundred signups, and you get the picture. Each week we get to teach dropoff and pickup to a fresh crop of neophytes.
Not to sound like an ingrate—it’s really beautiful to see the place come to life week after week, especially so under the baton of summer camps leaders John Kleiner and Greg Anderson. We get to play and learn and explore. If you find yourself in the middle of it all, please feel free to help those new to campus. One special feature this summer is an initiative from Greg O’Loughlin bringing teachers together from schools of different types around the city. More on that when it succeeds.
You didn’t ask, but if I had the chance to dole out advice about a summer well spent for kids, that summer would include: a suggestion to spend plenty of time outside, an intentional effort to read at least an hour for every hour of screen time, a series of trips locally to explore our changing city, and something that feels like work. Whether it’s household chores, tending some kind of garden, or when old enough finding something that actually generates a paycheck, the agency that comes with doing tasks of value to others is no small thing. Alongside all the missteps as a dad, the insistence on my kids working every summer is something that they now credit as really helpful for finding their way to and through young adulthood.
Here ends the lesson. Here ends the update. Here ends the school year.
Come on by whenever you like,

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