Dear Academy families and friends,

The Spring/Summer 2014 edition of NewsMagazine was one of the most popular ever.  In it, we highlighted 20 young alumni who achieved success following their graduation from the Academy.  The response from all groups of people engaged with the Academy was wonderful.

Next Friday, we will honor six other Academy graduates during our annual Alumni Achievement Awards and Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in McCormick Auditorium.  We will present the awards during a joint Middle and Upper School Morning Meeting so our current students can hear directly from these men and women about their paths to success in the medical and technology fields.  We will also induct two alumni into our Athletics Hall of Fame because of their outstanding contributions to Academy teams before they graduated.

Typically at the awards ceremony, our alumni discuss the role Harrisburg Academy played in their lives.  They express appreciation towards the Academy’s unique learning experiences that ignited their passions, the commitment of our faculty, and the fellow students who shared their desires for serious work and good-hearted fun.  They express gratitude and talk about self-discipline and responsibility — all character traits that were fostered at the Academy.  They also speak about later setbacks and hardships they encountered, and the perseverance that was required to achieve their goals.  These are important stories for our current Academy students to hear as they consider their own futures and what they will need to do to forge their own paths to success.

Harrisburg Academy has changed since the eldest of our honorees graduated in 1982, more than 30 years ago.  The scope of an Academy education has expanded in so many ways.  We have HATS and Junior Kindergarten classes.  Beginning in 6th grade, students use their own personal laptop computers to support their learning.  Upper School students are involved in an International Baccalaureate curriculum based on worldwide standards of learning and a Centers program that allows them to extend their classroom studies in specific areas of interest through hands-on, experiential opportunities.

By the same token, little has changed since 1982.  The Academy’s commitment to preparing students to be successful adults, with the highest standards of personal integrity and concern for the common good of others, remains steadfast and consistent.  The consistency of the core mission of Harrisburg Academy is ever so clear during our alumni awards program, when alumni and current students are linked by common and deep bonds created by the Academy’s mission.

This month, the beginning of the Academy’s 231st year, has been wonderful in other ways, too.  During our Back-to-School nights, parents expressed pleasure with our curriculum, faculty, commitment to “deep learning” rather than less-challenging state standards, and a new dress code that underscores our community’s unity on a daily basis.  Our students have expressed many of the same sentiments, too, including their delight to learn in new, cutting-edge science laboratories, and their excitement over expanded opportunities in fine and performing arts that will allow them to challenge themselves in new ways.

Please take a minute to thank your students’ teachers for our successful September.  They returned to work two weeks prior to the start of school for professional development and ample classroom preparation time.  The core of our success is rooted in their hard work and dedication, starting in August and continuing year-round.

I am certain we can continue this successful September into October and beyond, and I encourage you to stay in touch with the teachers of your students.  I hope the conversations you started with our faculty this month will continue on an informal and as-needed basis.  I, too, want to hear your thoughts about the Academy’s teacher-parent learning partnership, the enthusiastic expectations you have for your students this year or even your pride in sharing company with an extensive network of accomplished Academy alumni and their families.  I’ll be available in the front of the Academy one afternoon each week during October and November to chat.

With warm regards,

Jim