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How Summit Stayed Summit

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March, the school responded swiftly to make a smooth transition for our students and families and our faculty quickly adapted to relationship-based distance learning. Together we transformed campus into a safe place for students and teachers. While our campus may look different and our teaching methods have had to be flexible, we stayed Summit. Our students are resilient. Faculty members remain agile and dedicated to their craft. Staff remain committed to ensuring the health and safety of our community. And Summit remains focused on Inspiring Learning. Many thanks to Henry Heidtmann, Media & Broadcast teacher and Classroom Technology Specialist, for the production of this video with help from the advancement office and duWayne Amen, Director of Facilities. The narrator is Donza Friende, Assistant Director of Admission, and the photos were taken by Martin Tucker. The opening and closing animations were created by sixth grader, Shaffer Broughton, and the school song arrangement, Glory and Honor, is by Henry Heidtmann IV '09.

Please watch this incredible video - How Summit Stayed Summit.

Onward and Upward: Opening School in a Pandemic

The 20-21 school year began August 25 with a nearly full on-campus attendance, as well as 45 students at home using video-based and online learning--something we call hybrid.

When the COVID pandemic struck back in March, the school responded swiftly to make a smooth transition for our students and families--and our faculty quickly adapted to online learning. We learned many things about teaching students remotely last spring.

Using available data, CDC guidelines, and recommendations from local and regional health professionals - and in keeping with the spirit of onward and upward - more than 100 staff and faculty worked throughout the summer to transform our campus into a safe place for students and teachers to be. Faculty spent their summer doing professional-development work which led to the success of Summit's hybrid learning model which was put in place this fall.

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The unjust deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others are causing anguish and turmoil across our country.

To our students, families, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and community members who are grieving and suffering through these recent events within the context of a long history of racial injustice and inequality: We see you, we love you, and we support you. You are not alone. We are here with you. Our hearts ache for you. We stand beside you.

Each of us is part of something larger than ourselves.

Summit's mission is to provide a challenging curriculum within a caring environment to help students develop their full potential--to inspire untold possibilities. The world needs that potential and those possibilities now more than ever. This moment in history is not invisible to our children. We are deeply committed to teaching them, modeling for them, and engaging them in this fundamental truth: There is more that connects us as human beings than divides us.

We are equally committed to living out Louise Futrell's dream of creating a school where "everybody could be a somebody," and in doing so, are continuously working towards creating a more equitable, just, and inclusive community within and beyond Summit. Summit's Dream School Initiative is real, and its work--our work--of creating a place of belonging is an essential facet of our community.

Our country is living out the expression of what happens when any one of us feels that we do not belong. On the other side of the conflict and hurt we are experiencing throughout this country is the opportunity to better understand our humanity, and in doing so, to reimagine a nation that celebrates both the things that make us unique and that bring us together. The way forward requires compassion and honesty. Compassion for the lived experience of those around us. Honesty about the unique role each of us is called to play in rooting out the racism that limits all of our lives and compromises our collective humanity.

At our best Summit is a community of empathy and action. This historical moment begs for both. To that end, we invite you to use the resources found at the bottom of this letter. While we can't predict the future, we can come together to help create it.

Onward and upward,

Michael Ebeling, Head of School

Additional Resources for Families

Blog post: How to talk with kids about difficult topics

Resource Hub
How to Talk to Kids About Tough Topics
By Lisa Emmerich, Summit Social Studies Teacher

During the school year, I have the pleasure of regularly discussing controversial historical and current events with Summit's upper school students. In social studies class, we engage in conversations about race, class, politics and religion - topics that students have often been advised to avoid - with respect, kindness and civility. Even during contentious election years, as some students feel joy and delight while others feel anger or pain, we manage to engage in meaningful dialogue without taking sides. It's not easy - but it's pretty incredible.