Welcome to a special guest edition of the PawPrints Upper School Director Letter. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Peter Williams and I am ending my fourth year of teaching Latin in our Upper School. I have also been helping to guide the school through our accreditation process with the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) since May of last year. We, as a whole school, go through a process of seeking re-accreditation every five years, and 2017 finds us at the end of one cycle and on the cusp of another.
The accreditation process has two main parts, one involving compliance with numerous standards set by SAIS regarding everything from the school’s governance structure and finances to its academic practices, and the other involving a process of self-study and the setting of goals for the next five year cycle. On Monday, the chair of our visiting accreditation team was on campus as we finalized the first of these two parts of the accreditation process. I am happy to say that our visiting chair approved of everything in our standards compliance report and was complimentary of the school in its structure and its practices.
While preparing a full report on our compliance with SAIS standards, I had the opportunity to learn a great deal about what happens on our campus. It is very easy, no matter who we are within the community, to become focused on the immediate and the pressing, and to forget that we are part of a school with as many opportunities and with as much rich programming as our school offers. It is easy to forget, for instance, that while our Lower School students are learning about families, our Middle School students are writing their autobiographies, and our Upper School students are reading Zora Neal Hurston’s monumental Their Eyes Were Watching God, and that all of them are learning about family, coming of age, and society in developmentally appropriate ways. This was a chance for me to step back and see the larger picture of GDS, and that picture is impressive. I have also had the opportunity to work with faculty and staff at all division levels, and I am constantly amazed at the sincerity, helpfulness, and passion of my colleagues.
Of course, as important as accreditation is, the rest of the school does not stop moving as we work through the process. Our seniors are out in the world engaging in their senior projects, our juniors are preparing for the JBT, and our freshmen and sophomores are readying themselves for exams; Robert Mimms has been working with trip leaders and chaperones in preparation for the wonderful suite of trips announced to the students last week, Wendy Lavine and the prom committee have been planning this important 11th and 12th grade milestone, and Mara Montana and our Varsity Boys’ Tennis Team has been participating in NCAIS State Tournament. Thanks to you all for letting me visit this space. If you have any questions about the our accreditation process, feel free to reach out to me.
Peter S. Williams
Upper School Latin
Friday, May 26 begins with Sports Awards at 8:30 a.m. This assembly is required for all students grades 9-12. Seniors are expected to attend and all students should wear Game Day Dress.
8:30 a.m. Sports Awards for grades 9-12, game day dress
- Seniors will return to their Senior Projects.
- Eleventh grade students will have required Junior Backpacking Trip prep and time for Bookstore BuyBack.
- Ninth and Tenth grade students will have review sessions.
12:30 p.m. Dismissal
Teachers will be available after 12:30 for individualized help if students want to stay on campus.
EXAMS for 9th and 10th grade students begin on Tuesday, May 30 (Campus is closed on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29). The exam schedule is as follows:
Tuesday, May 30
- 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. Social Science/Humanities
- 12:30 - 2:30 p.m. World Language
Wednesday, May 31
- 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. English
- 12:30 - 2:30 p.m. Make-up Exams
Thursday, June 1
- 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. Math
- 12:30 - 2:30 p.m. Make-up Exams
Friday, June 2
- 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. Science
If for any reason your child needs to take a make up exam, they must plan this through their dean (not directly with the teacher). Absences will be excused for the following reasons: illness, family emergency, an unavoidable family commitment (ie- wedding, graduation, etc)
It is important that you communicate with your dean if you are unable to sit for an exam during the scheduled time. If your child wakes up ill and unable to take an exam, please notify the upper school office as soon as possible and then have your child follow up with their dean to reschedule the missed exam.
Monday, June 5 – Teacher Workday. Seniors have Senior Alumni luncheon. 9th - 11th grades, no classes.
Tuesday, June 6
- 8:15 a.m. - Upper School Assembly (grades 9-11). Seniors report directly to mini-gym to meet Kindergarten buddies.
- 8:30 a.m.- All School Closing Ceremony. Followed by advising and locker clean out. Senior to attend advising and then will receive yearbooks.
- 10 a.m. - Upper School closing and awards ceremony for Grades 9-11
- 12:30 p.m.- Dismissal. We hope seniors will join us for an end of year celebration while other grades receive yearbooks.
- 1:30 p.m. Junior Backpacking Trip meetings
Wednesday, June 7 - Prom. More details to follow. Prom is for juniors and seniors. Underclassmen may attend as an invited guest of a junior or senior.
Thursday, June 8 - Convocation for Seniors at 4:30 p.m. Seating is limited.
Friday, June 9 - Graduation, 9 a.m. Doors open at 8:15 a.m.