Out of Office: We’re Back!

Out of Office is a series from Head of School Kim Samson that highlights/focuses on time spent outside of her office: in the BVR hallways, classrooms, stages, fields, and beyond.

First week of school, TAKE 3! That’s what I said to the Upper School on the first day of school, and I’ve got to say—hands down—I like TAKE 3!

Before I jump into the very eventful first week of school, I wanted to highlight the last week of August. We had many students on-campus for Upper School preseason, conferences, and Middle School activities. Specifically, during Middle School instrument matching, I enjoyed watching our new students connected with our fabulous Performing Arts staff and with one another as they all tried things new to them. By the end of the day, their guards were down and they participated in a very competitive campus scavenger hunt and enjoyed ice cream with several returning Middle Schoolers.


The first day was raining, which might normally put a damper on things (literally)—but not this year! There’s be an incredibly positive vibe across the campus since the first moment students walked on campus. How lucky I am to lead a community embracing what school should be!

On day one, Middle School students dug right into advisory followed by classes and their first Middle School Meeting. There were many wide-eyes on the part of new students as well as 7th and 8th graders who were clearly happy to be back and eager to help their new classmates adjust. As they took everything in, the many adults who will be part of their lives this year introduced themselves and their favorite spaces on campus.

In the Upper School, after a summer of planning, the new Upper School Deans structure already has benefited our students and given them an extra level of support. Our new 9th grade students quickly connected with one another through activities that helped them find common ground and start conversations; topics ranging from your favorite cereal to your family pets to which historical figure you would take to dinner.

At Thursday’s senior class meeting, I watched student leaders introduce the new house system. In a nutshell, Student Council has divided the Upper School into several houses (a la Harry Potter) named after chemicals. (Did they know their Head of School is a former chemistry teacher as they formulated this plan, which also includes smaller groups of …yes…ISOTOPES!? None of my friends are going to believe I had literally nothing to do with this brainchild!) Seniors were immediately ALL IN, creating competitions that included saying a single phrase in multiple languages, the best ‘meow’ sound, thumb wrestling Mr. Ingenthron, rocks, paper, scissors, shoot. etc. It was so much fun, and I know from watching them that, when the House system is rolled out, our seniors will lead by example!

Friday consisted of events and community-building fun in the Upper School. For our seniors, the day started early: they opted to meet and watch the sunrise with donuts and coffee at Larz Anderson Park.

Once on campus, in the morning, all four grades had activities that ranged from (not) waking McKinney to College Counseling programming for seniors to a murder mystery to crossing a ‘lava pit’. In the afternoon, students gathered in their Isotopes for some friendly competitions, and I joined the Platinum house for a great game of Pictionary (which we won!). The day ended with shaved ice and some very happy (and tired!) students. You can check out our Instagram Reel from the day to see some of the action.

What a way to kick-off the 22-23 school year!

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