Annually, at the end of the school year, I visit with each graduating 8th grader to learn about their experiences at Boulder Country Day.
Though I call them “exit interviews,” they really are more like a beginning than an end. I collect the data from my visits and use it to inform the way I understand our school. Mostly, I ask all kinds of questions about their past and present time at BCD, their memorable moments, and their future plans.
One of the most striking consistencies among the students I have visited with so far is their answer to the question, “What did you enjoy most about the BCD experience?” Virtually every student talked about or connected their enjoyable moments to community, and usually they described that connection as familial. That is to say, they enjoyed the family feel of our school, the way we look out for each other, the way teachers and students interact, and the way the students have learned and grown up together.
Felipe has been at BCD for 12 years. He describes his experience as, “the one-to-one aspect of my teachers knowing who I am and what I have to offer.” Sydney, who has also been at BCD since preschool, described it as “the sense of community, across grades. Everyone knows everyone.” And, Sophia referred to the “small, family environment. My academic success came with support and encouragement.” Felipe, Sydney, and Sophia have excelled at BCD because of community. Our safe, welcoming environment encourages appropriate risk-taking, and taking risks – academically, socially, athletically, artistically – is the key to advanced learning.
Our parents echo their students’ responses. Like their children, many of our parents have “grown up” at our school. Nearly ½ of our students started at BCD in preschool or Kindergarten, and, together, they learned to be parents as their children were learning to be students. Preschool potlucks, room parent volunteers, Board and PTO service, and our Parent Education Series create community for our families, and drive our school towards an even better tomorrow. In fact, this week we will celebrate parent volunteerism as BCD to recognize over 140 parents who played an active role in shaping the community of our school, a remarkable figure given our size and population.
The last question I ask our soon to be graduates is, “what will you miss most upon your BCD graduation.” It’s not our beautiful campus, our innovative curriculum, or our 1:1 program in the middle school that they will miss. It’s our people and the teachers, friends, sense of belonging, connections, and closeness that make up our community. More simply put, it’s the greater BCD family that our students and parents will miss the most when the leave this place, and for that I could not be more grateful.
By John Suitor, Head of School, Boulder Country Day School