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We Are All King Triton

May 30, 2024

A letter from Gabe Burnstein, Head of School 

Summer announced itself loudly and suddenly this week, much like the Kindergartner I heard bursting onto the playground and announcing to the world: “I’m a robot archaeologist!”

I turned around and the Ultimate Frisbee team was having a water balloon fight. Cricket and Bear, our beloved EDP teachers, were unfurling the Slip ‘n Slide. Coach Rupp announced the schedule for Sports Day. The yearbook was sent to the printer. The fourth grade novels were bound, their breakfast celebration, over! The Class of 2024 has taken their final curtain call as the cast of The Little Mermaid and Mica Moellering has sent a reminder to faculty and staff about the last Sharing Assembly. The last Sharing Assembly of the year?! Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were in cold and rainy April?

Then I started to panic. It’s all happening too fast! It can’t be summer yet.

And, if I’m being honest, this feeling is as much about being a parent as it is about being an educator. (What do you mean my twins aren’t going to be second graders anymore?) The truest cliché in the world is that our children grow up too fast.

This was summed up perfectly at the end of The Little Mermaid Jr., when 8th grader Leyton McCormick, as King Triton, looks to Quinn Kennedy, as his daughter Ariel, and says: “Somehow in the blink of an eye, when my back was turned, you grew up.” When Leyton spoke that line, it got misty for the parents and caregivers in the audience of Foster Hall.

We are all King Triton.

I decided to take action and issue an executive order with a special announcement: “Due to unforeseen circumstances related to the exponential speed of childhood, the 2023-24 school year will extend in perpetuity. I’m sorry for the inconvenience. There will be no summer vacation. This year is too special and we would like the children to stay at this developmental stage forever.”

I’m taking it to the Board!” I thought. (Moses would be proud.)

But begrudgingly, I walked it back. I can’t cancel summer or stop time. We can’t slow down childhood any more than we can slow the flow of water on the Slip ‘n Slide or the laughter from our Otters as they glide onto the soft grass of our new playground.

I’m here to tell you that I’ve moved through the stages of grief, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that we must say goodbye to this special school year. Summer is here. And I know that while summer feels much longer to our children, fall will be here in the blink of an eye.

In between now and then, I hope your summer days slow down and allow you to rest and also soak up some of the joyfulness of your loved ones at this special, fleeting moment of their childhood.