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Head of School Community Update: April 18, 2022

Head of School Community Update: April 18, 2022

Dear Bullis Families,

Bullis Community Update from Head of School, Christian Sullivan

A week ago, I walked Freddy early in the morning, and it was 33 degrees. On Friday, same time, it was 74 degrees. Today brings to mind the expression “April showers bring May flowers.” Clearly, the seasons are in flux and summer may be upon us. Annually, I am startled by the sudden approach of the end of the school year; I should have learned by now that once spring break has passed, the weeks flash by. We are seven weeks and 35 school days away from June 8. How did that happen? Much will occur in the coming days, but I also want to share some news with you that looks to the future beyond the coming summer.

Dwayne Haskins, Jr., ‘16

First, though, I want to again acknowledge the tragic passing of Dwayne Haskins, Jr., Bullis alum of the class of 2016. We held an assembly with Middle and Upper School students last Monday morning with many members of the Haskins family present, including Dwayne’s parents, Tamara and Dwayne Sr. We felt compelled to do so because many of our older students remember Dwayne well and looked up to him as a person, student, and athlete; he was well known at Bullis before going on to Ohio State and the NFL. We wanted to give the opportunity to gather as a community. I hope and believe it gave some solace. The Haskins family has asked us to host a candlelight vigil for our community, friends, and family in memory of Dwayne, which we will do on Sunday, April 24, at 7 pm in the Kline Stadium. All are welcome to attend. Again, we send heartfelt condolences to Dwayne’s parents and his beloved sister, Tamia, class of 2019.

Dining Services Announcement

I announced some time ago that we had asked four dining service companies (Aramark, SAGE, FLIK, and Meriwether Godsey) to submit proposals to run our dining services. After a thorough process that included feedback from students, parents, trustees, and faculty, Meriwether Godsey (MG) was the unanimous choice of the committee. MG was chosen because when visiting another MG school (Potomac) and when MG cooked food as a test here at Bullis, the committee observed and experienced their commitment to food that is delicious and nutritious, made from scratch, and, where possible, locally sourced. We are beyond excited to start working with them, as are they with us. MG also provides dining services at Sidwell, GDS, Beauvoir, Madeira, Sheridan, and Holton-Arms, among others. Next summer (2023), we will be completely updating the kitchen and expanding and renovating the dining room. This provides a further opportunity to improve the dining experience of our students and faculty. I want to thank Meredith Wade, Tim Simpson, and Rachel Venezian for leading the charge with this important RFP process. The entire group did an incredible job, and I am very excited for our dining future.

Calendar Changes for 2022-2023 School Year

I want to give advance notice of a change to our calendar for next year. In general, random days away from school concern me. Some national and religious holidays are necessary and unavoidable, but as much as possible, I look to leverage our calendar for learning, family time, and professional development. Therefore, next fall, we will have fewer single days off, all divisions will do parent conferences on the same days, and the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week will be devoted to professional development, while the students have the entire Thanksgiving week as vacation. This actually results in more teaching days, more effective professional development time, and more time for families to use for vacation, if they wish. The Monday after Thanksgiving will be a late start but will be a teaching day. In terms of planning for families, what I most want to give advance warning about is that students will be on vacation from the close of school on Friday, November 18th until 10 am on Monday, November 28th.

Sports and Activities

Campus is teeming with spring events, and they’ve all been a delight to watch. Congratulations to the girls’ track team on their win at Bullis’s first Track & Field Invitational in three years, as well as to the many dancers who participated in the inspirational Spring Dance Show on Thursday night. Today’s Shark Tank was fantastic, and we are all looking forward to the signature program symposia this week and the visual arts shows, spring play, and final concerts in the coming month.

Every spring, we recognize the graduating seniors who have contributed so much to their respective teams and activities. I look forward to the honoring of our seniors on the boys' lacrosse team at their game against Episcopal this Friday at 7 pm, the senior girls' lacrosse players at their game against Flint Hill on April 28 at 5:30 pm, the senior baseball players at their game against Landon on April 26 at 4:30 pm, the senior golfers at their match against Georgetown Prep on May 3 at 3:30 pm, and the senior boys' tennis players at their match against Georgetown Prep on May 5 at 4:15 pm. Congratulations, as well, to the seniors whose commitment to the visual and performing arts has been unwavering, the seniors on the track team who were recognized at the invitational on April 9, and our senior rower in the DC National Rowing Club.

And of course, this is all a reminder that our seniors are off to college all too soon. My letter in two weeks will be devoted to college entrance; as a teaser, I am so proud of their achievements and look forward to sharing them with you.

Covid

The BA.2 omicron subvariant has become the predominant strain in the US, and, unfortunately, it is more contagious than prior versions. Unsurprisingly, there has been a significant spike in Montgomery County numbers. Fortunately, we have not seen a noticeable uptick at Bullis. In the last two weeks, we have had 2 positive results from 1943 tests conducted on campus. Additionally, five off-campus positive results have been reported to us. Anecdotally, the majority of our students and faculty are not wearing masks around campus. Our continued testing is giving me comfort that transmission is not occurring at school, despite both relaxed protocols and higher numbers in the community. I also note, however, that one local school has been closed by the State Department of Health because of outbreaks in that school community; this is not over yet.

I want to remind our community that all the testing at Bullis this year is being paid through federal funds allocated to the state; personal insurance is not covering the cost of our on-campus testing now.

I hope you all had a joyful holiday weekend.

Warmly,

christian sullivan signature

Christian G. Sullivan
Head of School

I write to you with a heavy heart about the horrific shooting yesterday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. My colleagues and I, and I am sure our entire community, are so deeply saddened by this heartbreaking news. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the families affected by this tragedy and with the entire Uvalde community as they respond and grieve this terrible loss.