From the Desk of Jay Rainey – April 8, 2022

Among the extraordinary delights of this week for me at MICDS were, in no particular order, chatting with Middle School students over lunch, cheering for our Girls Soccer, Boys Tennis, and Track and Field teams, being informed by a Beasley student that she and I will be wearing matching dinosaur costumes next Halloween, thoroughly enjoying the opening night of Mamma Mia! in Orthwein Theatre, learning all about a rescued cactus named PJ in Ms. Leitch’s Upper School history classroom, and, believe it or not, launching this year’s Parent Survey, the results of which are always so informative to our work.

I have observed previously that a consistent finding of the Parent Survey is our good fortune to inhabit such a beautiful campus, and as coincidence would have it, the Facilities Committee of the Board of Trustees met the very evening before its release this week. The Committee, whose work is much to credit for the care and keeping of our campus, has been thoughtfully led for the last several years by Thurman Brooks, father of Jordyn ’18 and Jessica ’20, and is supported substantially by the efforts of Chief Financial and Operating Officer Beth Miller, Chief Information Officer Stewart Crais, and Director of Operations Bob Jett.

As inspiring as our MICDS buildings and grounds may be, constant investment and planning are necessary to ensure their upkeep and, when necessary, their enhancement or replacement. Opportunities abound. Respecting my list of “extraordinary delights” above, future generations of Middle School students would benefit from a more highly functional lunchroom than the current one in which I visited with several seventh graders this week. The fields on which our athletes compete require regular tending and, in the case of turf surfaces, periodic replacement. The Lower School student who gave me my instructions for next Halloween did so on a playground that might benefit from an updated design. Our performing and visual arts programs manage to thrive within noticeable space and floor-plan limitations (Mamma Mia! really is so wonderful, as was the production of Story Theatre in the Middle School early last month), and even PJ the cactus might benefit from a comprehensive landscaping, greening, greenhousing, and gardening plan aligned with our life sciences and botany curricula as well as our commitment to environmental sustainability.

Speaking of the latter, I emailed an optional survey to all of our students in grades 4-12 earlier this week. “What suggestions do you have for changes at MICDS that would improve the environmental sustainability of our campus and school community?” Dozens of them responded, and common themes ranged from reducing our use of plastic materials at lunch (“wraps, containers, and utensils”) to investigating the environmental impacts of maintaining our lawns and athletic fields (“water usage, energy consumption, and chemical runoff”), to installing more solar panels, to building a garden, to expanding our commitment to composting and recycling. Several single-mention suggestions are also worth sharing here: installing more energy-efficient windows; declaring “Meatless Mondays;” increasing the number of lights controlled by automatic sensors; and scheduling “Zero Waste Days” to incentivize sustainable habits.

We depend on the Board Facilities Committee to balance our goal of environmental sustainability against the feasibility of proposals like the ones above. A specific example is the installation of electric car charging stations in our parking lots, which one student raised as a suggestion, and which also happened to have been discussed by the Facilities Committee in depth two days earlier. We considered all identifiable costs and benefits of this compelling idea and ultimately decided to table it for the time being, intending at some point in the future to consider it anew. It may well be the case, however, that other environmental initiatives like those suggested by our students can be implemented at a lower cost, or at a nearer point in the future, than we might imagine.

In the list of happy interactions with students that begins this letter, I forgot to mention being put in “time out” by several third-grade students this morning who noticed that I was not appropriately dressed for today’s snowy April weather. (No coat, no gloves, no cap.) “But you can just do the time out in your office if you want to, Mr. Rainey,” one of them offered. How kind! Thanks to her, I was able to write this letter.

Always reason, always compassion, always courage. I wish you and your families a wonderful weekend ahead.

Jay Rainey
Head of School

This week’s addition to the “Refrains for Rams” playlist: Dancing Queen by ABBA. If a more perfect pop song than Dancing Queen has ever been recorded, I have never heard it. Let’s go, MICDS Troubadours! (Apple Music / Spotify)