Today in orientation meetings both in NYC and on the Massachusetts campus, students reflected on what it means to be in a community rooted in kindness and why that–along with our words and actions-is such a critical part of student success, safety, and comfort.
In Massachusetts, Mr. Kerney introduced Ian Byrnes to the new students. Ian graduated in 2022 and lost his life just a few weeks later. In discussing Ian’s life and how his fellow students held him in high regard, Mr. Kerney challenged the students to learn three things from Ian’s two years at The Winchendon School:
- Make sure the adults in the community know what you want. Ian wanted to take courses outside of what others expected – at Winchendon, Ian was able to explore those academic interests.
- Try lots of different things. Ian managed volleyball, played soccer, and lacrosse, and was a gamer. He tried everything with enthusiasm and a smile.
- Be kind. At Ian’s memorial service we heard a story that we felt exemplified his personality. Faced without lunch, one of Ian’s co-workers was grateful when Ian shared his chicken tenders – when they reached the last chicken tender, Ian cut that one in half and shared that as well.
On both campuses, the discussion of kindness set the tone for the day as we dove into community expectations, building connections, and in NYC, even had our first fire drill(s) of the year before they painted a mural, and working on collaborative projects.
Both campuses enjoyed a scavenger hunt to explore the school and get to know the neighborhood.