News Post

Letter From Upper School Director - September 12
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Upper School Director Joanne P. Hoffman welcomes us back to school.

Dear Parents,

With the Convocation for Dr. Wendy Hill and the introduction of our new mission statement, to learn, to lead, and to live a legacy, this year has begun with such excitement — and with that AIS magic that we talk about so often as a distinguishing characteristic of our school. We heard about it at the Convocation; we hear about it routinely at open houses, parent gatherings, and special events.

Most significantly, however, we see that special brand of magic being created every day by our students in all that they do. They are the spirited shamans, who give life to the words of our mission as they
 rise to challenges in the classrooms, on playing fields, and in their extracurricular activities. By the way — this past week, your daughters developed a clubs fair that filled the air with enthusiasm and discovery by offering such traditional choices as debate, Model UN, Investment Club and the Culinary Club as well as new activities, such as Women for Justice, the Horticulture Club, and Ice Hockey Club. What leaders they are!

Another supporting element of that AIS je ne sais quoi this year will be the many ways that we will expand our cross-divisional theme to focus on diversity and inclusion. As you know, I wish that you could all be with us every minute throughout the school day — but since that is not possible, in this letter, I wanted to capture an opening moment that was especially inspiring to us all as it embraced our theme.

We began our year with an assembly in which two of our international students from China regaled us with the story of the Mid-Autumn Festival, which, they said, is one of the most important annual
 holidays in their country. While showing us pictures of the traditional moon cakes, with their beautiful pastel colors, they talked about the significance of this festival and its celebration of family. During their presentation, they noted poignantly that they would not be able to share in this special time with their families this year, but that they were thrilled to be part of their new family at AIS. In their final message of the morning, they urged us to cherish each moment with our individual families and celebrate those unique qualities that define them.

In so many ways, our Upper School students, faculty and administration form our AIS family through the arc of these secondary years. Through the freshman retreat, our ninth graders come to know each other and themselves in special ways as they begin to explore their talents and passions. Our tenth and eleventh graders continue that process by deepening and refining their academic strengths and exploring their places in the world through their SSP experiences. As our seniors lead us, they also begin to focus on the next steps in their educational journey — but with the realization that they always will be part of the Agnes Irwin family, taking with them that special brand of magic as they make plans to step into the world.

So, welcome to this new academic year and to partnering with us as we support your daughters’ growth and development. I will look forward to seeing you on the sidelines, at plays and recitals, during Parents’ Night, and many other times throughout the year. Please, always feel free to contact me with any issues, joys, or concerns that you may have. In the meantime, I send you my best regards.

Warmly yrs, Joanne