September 12, 2013

The Noah Principle

Wellman ditch on the north side of our campus, Thursday morning
For all of us in Boulder County, it’s been a tough few days.  Rain that started falling on Monday afternoon has continued almost incessantly throughout the week. 

At Friends’, we were able to host a successful Back to School night for our elementary parents on Wednesday evening.  Yet when it was time for us to leave school at around 8:00 p.m., the rain was coming down in torrents. Water levels in the two irrigation ditches that run on the north and east side of our campus rose above their banks, flooding the school parking lot. Two of our teachers were unable to get their cars out and were driven home by others.  Several of our parents and staff went barefoot to get to their cars and they got out without too much trouble.  The intersection of 55th and Pennsylvania Ave. was flooded and I passed several large garbage cans floating past our school’s entrance.

It was an easy decision early on Thursday morning to close school, and again on Friday, to follow the recommendation of the Boulder County Sheriff, and to keep our families and staff off the roads. On Thursday morning, one parent emailed me to say that his rain gauge had collected 10.86” since Monday. More rain is in the forecast.

All day on Thursday, I received updates from teachers, staff and parents alike.  We’ve had a few flooded basements, but nothing life-threatening.  Mandy Stepanovsky texted me at 3:21 a.m. saying her family had been evacuated to the high school in Lyons where she lives, but by 4:05 a.m. they were home.  Our two other teachers who live in Lyons, Caroline Long and Tyler Voorhees, are both doing well. They are safe and dry, but we are told that it might be 72 hours before the road to Boulder re-opens and we see them again.

A view of Friends' parking lot entrance
 at about 6:00 p.m. Thursday
I hope and trust that your family is doing well and you are staying dry.

On Monday evening, the Friends’ Community Board met for the first time this year. At that meeting, with the rain falling heavily outside, I highlighted for our Trustees the many changes that we’ve instituted for this school year. I gave a similar talk to the one you heard if you were at our elementary Back To School Night on Wednesday.  Highlights include:
            - introduction of our amazing new teachers
            - increased student and teacher support
            - focus on academics, including enhancements in our elementary science, spelling, reading, writing, math, and Spanish programs
            - focus on social emotional learning (if you missed our latest curriculum update, you can find it here)
            - improvements in our instructional spaces, especially for art, music and P.E.
            - clear and consistent discipline policy
            -increased, weekly art time

At that Board meeting, I quoted what is known as the Noah principle:

“No more prizes for predicting rain; prizes only for building arks.”

These well-researched, intentional, and significant changes to our elementary school program outlined above are among our arks at Friends’ School. These are the things, combined with the fabulous community of people, students, parents, teachers, and staff, that will take our students’ educational experience to the next level.

Little did I know that the rain coming down in sheets outside the Board room on Monday would not let up and would force us to close school three days later. Calling a “rain day” is a first for me. The city and county of Boulder is in need of a few arks right now.

At Friends’ we’re not giving out prizes for predicting rain. We’re quietly building arks.

We hope and pray to see the sunshine soon that will allow us all to dry out. Have a wonderful weekend.

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