October Head of School Letter: Busy as Bees

Friday, October 6, 2017

Artwork by Morgan Brown, 7th Grade

GUS has maintained two honey bee hives adjacent to the greenhouse for a decade. I think of those bees and their hive like school. Busy with purposeful activity, rooted on this beautiful campus, and taking regular forays to explore the environs and ecosystems of the North Shore, GUS students are busy bees! Their treasure is much more than the sweet liquid gold we’ll harvest next week. It’s the lifelong richness of learning. GUS is a safe place for exploration, growth, and development, whether for the bees that collect nectar on our campus or the children who study the science of beekeeping. We nurture kids with intention and care, striving for excellence as we provide a secure emotional and physical environment for them to grow into curious, engaged, collaborative, respectful, and responsible members of their families, towns, country, and world. That’s our mission in a nutshell.

Next week, past GUS parent Luke Fabbri P ’14, ’16, will come to campus. Luke is a master apiarist, or beekeeper. I met him last spring when he made an initial check on our hives to see how the colony had overwintered. He donned the white coveralls and headgear that beekeepers wear and gently pumped smoke into the open hive to calm the bees. The 60,000 or so bees had made it through the winter just fine and were ready to spend the summer collecting nectar from an area in about an 8 mile radius of the school. Several weeks later Luke was back, this time taking groups of similarly clad upper school science students out to observe the inner workings of the hives: drones, worker bees, a single well-tended queen. A little bit of honey was already sealed in combs built on frames stacked inside.

Now that October has arrived, Luke will be back to join those same students in harvesting the honey produced over the summer. It will likely be a plentiful crop from the home hive plus the secondary hive placed adjacent, which allowed the colony to expand. Because the GUS campus is now pesticide and herbicide free, the colony will likely be stronger, too. Look for hyper-local, organic GUS honey for sale in a school lobby near you soon!

GUS is as active as a bee hive this fall! I encourage you to join us and bring friends for a screening, on Wednesday, October 18th, of Beyond Measure, a film that explores learning models around the nation that, like ours at GUS, eschew high-stakes testing in favor of learning that is engaging, authentic, and hands-on. I likewise encourage you to chaperone a GUS field trip if you can and witness the power of place and theme-based learning at its best. There will be many opportunities to volunteer during this special 40+Forward year, and I hope to see you all at least once!

I also hope you’ll ask your upper school children about our recent visit from cartoonist and animator Erik Moxcey ’83. Erik was among the first six GUS graduates in 1983, and he followed his dreams and passions to the Rhode Island School of Design and, ultimately, Hollywood, where he is an animator for shows like The Simpsons, Rugrats, and Family Guy. He talked about how his interests at GUS turned into a career and a happy, successful life—an outcome we wish for all our students. I’m working on bringing other alumni back this 40th year to share GUS history with our current students.

Finally, after a week that began with a national tragedy of unfathomable scale, I want to let you know that we consider the safety of children to be a top priority. The ongoing physical and emotional safety of all members of our community is always on our minds. Through Open Circle in lower school and Life Skills in upper school, we will continue to support children no matter what happens in the world beyond our campus.

Trust and go forward,

David Liebmann
Head of School

Whitney Buckley