Senior School Head's Letters

May 2018

Dear Families,

Spring has finally made its way to Pittsburgh and to Shady Side! With the exception of a few rainy days, the month of May has brought glorious weather and much to celebrate. We have had many opportunities to recognize our seniors; on May 3, the College Counseling Office invited students and faculty to wear college gear and celebrate with cupcakes and a photo booth in the College Counseling Office. We have honored the Class of 2018 at “Senior Nights” for spring sports and at the Senior Honors Choir and Strings Concert last night. There are more opportunities ahead, notably the Senior Honors Band Concert next week and, in early June, the Senior Campout, Senior Dinner, Prize Day and Commencement.


Happiness WallWe look forward to these capstone moments each year, as it is wonderful to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of our seniors. This spring we have had an opportunity to recognize daily contributions of all of our community members through our “Happiness Wall.” Shortly before Spring Break, as part of a national campaign for the “International Day of Happiness,” the Community Builders hung a series of poster boards in the front hall of Rowe Hall, along with markers and slips of paper with the prompt, “I will spread happiness by…” Students and faculty have produced a series of fantastic responses. Some of them relate to academics: “I will spread happiness by turning in my outline!” Most are reflections on everyday acts of kindness: “I will spread happiness by sitting with someone who might be sitting alone;” “I will spread happiness by cheering on my teammates;” and “I will spread happiness by encouraging people to pursue their goals rather than pointing out what may stop them.”

As we head into the final weeks of the school year, these daily acts of kindness help students and faculty to navigate what can be a stressful time. Students are working hard to finish their regular coursework, and they are beginning to think about final exams. This week in Designated Rooms and a class meeting, the Community Builders talked with Form III students about preparing for and taking exams; for some freshmen, this will be their first experience with a cumulative exam. In addition to sharing “insider tips” on how to study, the Community Builders talked about the importance of getting sleep, maintaining healthy eating habits and taking breaks to manage stress. They distributed an exam review packet that our learning specialist, Sandra Lashway, put together to help reinforce their messages about advance planning and time management. All students will receive information about exam content and format in the upcoming weeks, and during the week of May 21, teachers will spend one to three days reviewing (term courses have at least one day of review, while full-year courses have at least three days).

I will close with a few reminders about the end of the year. Friday, May 25 is a Day Zero, when all classes meet and we will have a CUP activity in the middle of the day to celebrate the last day of classes. Exams will take place during the week of May 28; please review the exam schedule.

There are no classes scheduled for Monday, June 4, through Wednesday, June 6. Some students will have commitments on campus, notably the College Counseling workshops for rising seniors on June 4 and 5, and LEAD@SSA, the workshop for student leaders, on June 6. We come together as a full community again on Thursday, June 7, for Exam Debrief and Prize Day, and of course, for Commencement on Friday, June 8. Please see the schedule for those days.

As we “wind up to wind down,” I hope that our students will continue to look for ways to spread happiness as we support and celebrate each other. I look forward to seeing you on campus in the days and weeks ahead.


Sophie Glenn Lau
Head of Senior School