2016-2017 Annual Report | Letter from the Head of School

I was walking to work the other morning, enjoying my kind of temperatures: cold.

A heavy fog had settled in and the sun was slowly rising. The Solebury campus was a postcard — crisp colors to match the crisp temps, chirping birds, and yet a stillness at this early hour. In that moment, it struck me -I’ve been making this early morning walk for 10 years! How time has raced by. And in that moment I found myself reminiscing about all we — our alums, our current and past parents, our faculty and staff, our students and many friends of the school — have been able to accomplish over this past decade. The core of the Solebury School I inherited in 2008 remains healthy and vibrant, the culture steadfastly strong. But, wow, what changes have happened to enable us to sustain our mission: to offer a relevant education.

Virtually every building and space on the campus has received love over this decade. We have improved our service to our parents and students with staffing additions in admissions, college guidance, advancement, athletics, business, health care, and student life. We have added programs — Teach2Serve, Global Education, StarCatchers, Math Enrichment and Support, Master Singers, Dance Program, Bridge — and courses including: Robotics, Screen Analysis, Anatomy of a Screenplay, Refugee Voices, Character Leadership and Development, Linguistic Anthropology, Digital Filmmaking: Script to Screen, and on and on and on…

Our students can now participate in exchange programs with schools in Spain and Switzerland and a community service program in Costa Rica. A new video production studio is being readied. The Dining Hall opened amid hot and humid temps this September (and October!) with air conditioning, a more robust Residence Life program offers students an enriched array of programming punctuated by a "Stars" Auction (boarding students earn "stars" for positive contributions and meritorious behavior that goes above and beyond) at the end of the year. Last year Rebecca and I offered dinner out for someone and three of their friends as an auction item. Late May found Gabby, Roberto, Krystal and Michael — all seniors and great friends about to graduate — with me and Rebecca, enjoying a great meal on the outdoor deck of The Landing in New Hope.

Over the course of the past year, we rethought our gender specific restrooms and recast them to recognize greater gender fluidity. This highly relevant update to our campus is the direct result of the generosity of one of our most loyal donors. The physical plant improvements, the additional course offerings, the new programs, the improved service — everything we achieve to advance our education, our community, and offer that relevant education I mentioned, it all comes with a cost. And that’s where you come in. We simply would not be able to achieve nearly as much without your generous contributions to Solebury School. Tuition revenue alone is simply not enough, and because of your support, year after year — we can look back with pride over what has been accomplished over the past decade. I am both awed and amazed by how far we have come, and equally awed by your support for so many of these efforts.

Of course, it never ends. As I tell my tenth grade Honors Ethics students every year, there is only one direction and that is forward. As humans the status quo is never sufficient; we seek continuous improvement in our development as humans and as students, and the same can be said for our work in caring for this magnificent institution.

I have had the great fortune to lead this community for 10 years and counting. For all that you have done to support Solebury School, my sincere thanks. From all of us who live, work and play on the corner of Phillips Mill and School Lane — I offer a deep and abiding appreciation for you, our partners in continuous improvement as we care for Solebury School.

Tom Wilschutz
Head of School

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