Office of the Headmaster
August 20, 2015
Dear Students, Parents, Guardians:
Welcome to the 2015 – 2016 school year. I hope you have had a restful and fun summer and you are getting ready for another Brookline High school year. In addition to enjoying summer sun, spending time with your family and friends, and summer jobs or camp, you have probably seen something of the 2016 presidential campaign. Bernie Sanders? Marco Rubio? Ben Carson? Hillary Clinton? Donald Trump? As a former U.S. History teacher and an Iowa native, I love an election year. Having grown up with the Iowa caucuses in my hometown, having done government class ‘campaign hours’ for local and national candidates as a twelfth grader in Des Moines, having debated Democratic and Republican policies with parents and friends in the 1980s, my high school classmates and I became political animals by the time we had diploma in hand. Our neighborhood community was equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, hence some hefty differences in belief. This made the debate compelling and interesting. In the 1984 election, my classmates and I were twelfth graders, therefore often our debate was fierce and competitive, intense and impassioned, gendered, emotional, and fun. It was instructive – we learned a lot from listening to and debating each other and our teachers.
One of Brookline High’s legacies is that it is a place where true listening, debating, and thinking are highly valued. These are at the core of any democratic community. This year, as a school community, we will continue our important work and conversations about how our diverse school can become even more truly integrated in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, and disability. My predecessor, Dr. Bob Weintraub, often articulated that Brookline High should aspire to be a microcosm of an ideal America – in terms of values like equality, opportunity, discourse, and debate. With that aspiration as a guide, ideally this year our conversations and thinking will go deep, will be honest and edgy, will represent multiple points of view and styles, and will be cognizant that students and faculty feel deeply about important issues. Ideally, Brookline High will be a safe space for students and adults to share ideas, try on new thinking, make mistakes, learn and grow – whether our focus is the 2016 presidential candidates, BHS cell phone use, student dress, the homework policy, or more weighty and profound topics such as issues of racism and privilege or our reactions to national events that move us. And with that all in mind, let’s start another great school year.
The faculty and I anxiously await your arrival on September 3th and 4th. Please see the Opening Days schedules for arrival times and block schedules. Student course schedules are now available on the Aspen portal. Also, if you find an error or omission in the student schedule, it can be fixed at our Arena Scheduling Day on Wednesday, August 26. This is a student-only event. We welcome grade 12 from 8:30 to 11:30 am, and grades 9, 10, and 11 may attend from 9:30 to 11:30 am. Please welcome a new member of the BHS administrative team: Ms. Darby Neff-Verre, our new Coordinator of Guidance and Counseling, is getting into BHS-mode. She’s been around this summer getting oriented and meeting students and staff. Finally, remember that our school-wide summer reading will be discussed in the first weeks of your English classes. Grades 11 and 12 read Caucasia by Danzy Senna (Brookline High alum class of ‘88!), and Grades 9 and 10 read American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. Enjoy the remainder of your summer, and I look forward to another great year together.
Ms. Deborah Holman