Important information from Head of School J.P. Culley

Posted on: Feb 26, 2021

Dear Holland Hall Families,

I hope you are enjoying the “Spring Peek” as much as I am. Transitioning from the vortex’s nobody on campus to seeing more students and teachers taking advantage of the outdoors makes me think of how well we have weathered one of the most challenging winters in school history. I remain profoundly grateful for your patience and understanding, for your diligence and concern to our health and safety measures. We’re doing this the Holland Hall way. There’s much to be thankful for in that sentiment.

Less than three months of school remain!

We remain committed to our one-day-at-a-time approach, but it’s also time for us to look to the future — both near-term and with our new, bold strategic plan. Here’s what to look forward to, and to plan for, in the immediate future:

  • All Holland Hall employees will have access to a first round of vaccines, offered in the A.R. and Marylouise Tandy building, on Friday, March 5, 2021. The second round will happen prior to Good Friday. Please join me in thanking Drs. Travis and Sunni Wolff (Asher ‘33) and Med-World Pharmacy for making this possible!
  • The last days of school have been finalized. With the most challenging part of winter behind us and with our community’s COVID numbers much improved over the past few weeks, we feel more confident with firming up these dates. (Please recall the dates differ due to our staggered start.)
    • The last day of school for grades Early PreK – 5th is Friday, May 14.
    • The last day of school for grades 6th – 12th is Friday, May 21.
    • The first day for summer programs is Tuesday, June 1.
  • Grades 4-12 will be in virtual mode for the days immediately following spring break: Monday, March 22 through Thursday, March 25. Everyone is back on campus Friday, March 26. The purpose of these days is to help reduce the work for our faculty members and to maintain some distance from possible spring break COVID exposures appearing on campus.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I want us to keep close to heart what our students are experiencing. Things have changed radically for them. And it’s been going on for a long time. (Recall the adolescent and preadolescent sense of time does not match ours — it’s not even close.)

Especially over the past two months, every conversation I’ve had with counterparts locally and across the country has illuminated the augmented stress and anxiety our students are feeling — even the ones who are on campus frequently. They feel stressed around fewer social connections; they feel stressed around academic expectations (implicit or explicit); they feel stress around the new normal (if/when it will ever end); and, quite frankly, they are feeling the stress that we are feeling. All this is on top of just the regular stuff they have going on in their lives.

I think we have done well to offer them extracurriculars — however choppy they have felt from time to time. I think we have done well to get them on campus, and we’ll be doing more in the spring to create opportunities for an even greater sense of community. That said, I think we would do well to pull back a bit, for the time being, to give them some space. To reduce some of the stressors, if not for any other reason, than to create more bandwidth to play, to get outside, to explore an interest outside of academics, to have dinner with family, to “veg,” etc.

We’ve tried to create something that students could plan around. With that in mind, you should see significantly reduced, if not completely zero, homework assignments on E and F days for students in grades 4-12. Studying is certainly still possible, and assigned reading to move forward conversations in English is appropriate. The goal here is not to reduce expectations for learning how to use their minds well; it’s to give them some space so they can.

As parent conferences approach, I hope you take advantage of that opportunity to ask questions. Our approach is a holistic one. We care as much about the entirety of your child’s being as we do about the intellect. That’s what makes the Holland Hall experience so meaningful and lasting.

As is always, I hope you will be in touch with questions.

My regards,

J.P. Culley
Head of School