Family Weekend Letter from Dr. Zaccara

Dear Families,

The fall air is getting crisp, and students and faculty are beginning to walk around in sweaters and jackets as we watch the leaves begin to turn. We just concluded a very busy weekend with our annual reunion and a trustee meeting. Juniors, seniors, and postgraduates enjoyed an alumni panel that included Bruce Brown ’16, Ashley Potofsky ’13, Sonia Yang ’13, Falko Schilling ’03, and David Pye ’92. The careers included professional athletics, social work, law, education, public policy, and marketing. After the panel, Bruce Brown traded in his Detroit Pistons #6 jersey that he will be wearing this year for his NBA team, and Vermont Academy gave him his numbered jersey that he wore at VA for three years. It was very festive and fun!

We now are looking forward to the school tradition of Mountain Day, when I will declare a day off, and we will drive as a school to a nearby location for a day of canoeing, hiking, volleyball, and a barbecue. We will likely go to Townshend Dam near Newfane, VT. The four-year seniors announce Mountain Day and are themselves surprised when I inform them early on the appointed day. They carry the traditional mountain bell from building to building, ringing the bell along the classroom hallways and announcing the day off. We all then meet in the Nita Choukas Theater for our marching orders on bringing the right clothing and getting on the buses that will transport us to the Dam.

After Mountain Day, we hope that you will join us at Vermont Academy for our Family Weekend, October 18-20. This year, I want to make sure that students, faculty, and families stay on campus or in the area until after the sports games on Saturday. We know that one of the things that makes us special is our close connection with each other. Vermont Academy teachers, advisors, and deans all know our students well. Last year, I watched everyone rushing to have parent-teacher conferences and then heading out as quickly as possible on vacation, and I felt a sense of loss. If we are so connected, why not celebrate that connection a bit longer, and before break time? Years ago there was an auction on the Friday night of Cabaret and families stayed to watch athletic games on Saturday. I heard from families and students that making sure that there is also enough rest time for students is important, and I agree. What I would like to do is offer a program that includes three days of conferences, opportunities to visit abbreviated classes on Friday, grade-level class social meetings, meetings for day student and international families, a few optional mini-courses on health topics, a college panel, a fabulous dinner and Cabaret, and an afternoon of sports games. Students will be able to sign out of school once the athletic games conclude on Saturday so that we can all support our teams as players or spectators. There will be a reception or picnic area at the games. This affords families Saturday through Wednesday for a vacation. Please note that there are athletic games on Wednesday, so some students will need to return in time to prepare for them.

For conferences, you will have two or three close locations, ten minutes of discussion time with your son or daughter and their teacher, five minutes passing time (which we need to keep to), and a schedule with a map, our weekend activities, and fun things in the area to do with your family.

Our Cabaret is a favorite night and a Vermont Academy tradition. This year we will host our annual Family Weekend Cabaret Night on Friday, October 19. Cabaret is a chance for students to showcase their talents in the performing arts. This year will include performances by the Vermont Academy Vocal, Chamber, and Jazz Ensembles as well as solo acts and student bands. Student emcees keep the show moving and full of humor and fun.

On Sunday, our boys’ crew team will be racing in the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston at 11:36 a.m. VA will host a tent at the regatta in Reunion Village for our families and alumni who wish to attend and cheer on our team. More information about this will be forthcoming.

I hope that you will be making your travel plans to lovely Vermont in the fall. There are many places to stay in the area, and the closest are The Saxtons River Inn, Moore’s Inn, and the Grafton Inn.

Sending you fall greetings from tranquil Saxtons River,