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Bullis Community Update: November 18, 2022

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Bullis Community Update: November 18, 2022

Dear Bullis Families,

Bullis Head of School, Christian Sullivan

Happy Thanksgiving! One of the many things I adore about living in the USA is the celebration of this holiday–the unbridled joy of gathering with friends and family, even for those who don’t have family nearby. This year, for the first time, my mother and her husband are joining us from Oxford for Thanksgiving…along with 22 others; it will be particularly special. I hope it is for you too.

This past week, thanks to the generosity of all of you, the faculty, middle schoolers, and upper schoolers donated items for 104 Thanksgiving baskets to the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County. The lower schoolers wrote and decorated handwritten letters to include in the baskets. This coming Saturday, we will host our annual pie bake in the dining room and donate all of the pies we make to the Housing Opportunities Commission to round out the meals. (Apparently, I am on “slurry” duty, whatever that is!) These types of events remind us of the importance of togetherness, gratitude, and generosity, all of which are exemplified by our wonderful community.

Antisemitism

To transition from a paragraph about the joy of Thanksgiving to one that addresses the hatefulness of antisemitism is jarring, and I despise the fact that I have to discuss this vile topic; sadly, it is essential that I do. There has been a marked rise in antisemitic incidents across the country, and now locally too. Celebrities have used their large platforms to spew hateful rhetoric about Jewish people. And closer to home, just this week, horrific antisemitic graffiti was discovered in North Bethesda.

I am worried. While I feel fortunate to serve and lead in a community that has, at its core, a common agreement that discrimination of any kind isn’t tolerated, this uptick in hatred has the potential to infect our Bullis community. That simply cannot be allowed. This morning, I spoke at both the Middle School and Upper School assemblies, as well as in the fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms, reiterating to our students that we are a community that celebrates our diversity, and we have to ensure, to the best of our ability, the safety (in all its definitions) of our community members. I was particularly impressed by our fourth and fifth-graders, who, even at their tender age, were able to engage meaningfully in this conversation, ask thoughtful questions, and demonstrate such compassion for those within and outside of our community. For our kindergarten through third-grade students, our teachers and counselor are available and prepared to address these issues with any student who wishes to talk or needs support.

Finally, Kenneth Waters, Director of DEI, will be working with our Jewish Affinity Group to plan programming to address recent acts that have taken place nationally and locally. And this isn’t just about antisemitism–Islamaphobia, racism, homophobia, misogyny, and other forms of identity hatred seem to be on the rise, and we have to be actively confrontational; there is no permission in this community to engage in these despicable ideologies.

Faculty Professional Development

The faculty will be convening on Monday and Tuesday for professional development. In addition to continued reflection on and assessment of our curriculum, all faculty will participate in DEI training. After two days of hard work–and a very busy first three months of school–faculty will take a much-needed and much-deserved rest.

Upon our return from Thanksgiving, we will have a mere three weeks of school before the winter break. They will, however, be full. Winter track, basketball, ice hockey, swimming, and wrestling will be in full flow. Students participating in Arts activities will be busy rehearsing for shows, preparing for the Festival of Light, creating visual art pieces, and jamming out with the student rock band. And I believe there will be some academic endeavors going on too!

We look forward to all of these wonderful winter activities, but for now, we will take the opportunity to enjoy the break and connect with loved ones. Have a tremendous holiday, and we will see you soon.

Warmly,

christian sullivan signature

Christian G. Sullivan
Head of School