by Donna Milani Luther, Head of School
There are a variety of Inly traditions that set us apart from other schools. These traditions serve as an important part of the school year and they are all community-oriented so that students at every level as well as parents, faculty, staff, and friends can enjoy them.
For new families or for those who have always wanted to know more about our Inly traditions, please read on…
Morning Share is one of my favorite Inly Traditions and a real hallmark of our school. These community gatherings happen roughly once a month and give our students the opportunity to make announcements, share projects and poetry, sing songs, and perform skits. Because our students begin attending Morning Share when they are Toddlers, they become a fluid part of their lives.
A comfort develops for all our students as they stand up on stage before an audience of peers and parents. This comfort transfers to other aspects of their lives and grows as they grow. An immediate outcome is how effortlessly our students greet visitors in their classrooms, making eye contact and shaking hands with adults. But a more lifelong outcome is how poised and confident our students become in themselves.
Another tradition at Inly that is very spirited and special is our Halloween Parade. Each year, I love to see how genuinely excited our students are to arrive in their costumes. The whole school comes together for a morning parade around the upper field so that everyone can see the costumes and our students dance to the beloved Halloween song, Skeleton Bones. Of course, the other unique and fun aspect to our Halloween festivities is that my costume each year reveals our annual Inly Players performance (this year, I dressed as the Queen of Hearts to announce that we will be putting on a wonderful production of Alice and Wonderland).
The Inly Players
The Inly Players performances have become a hallmark for our school and we’re proud to say that no other school does anything quite like it. Because we include students from grade 3 and up, alumni, parents, faculty, staff and board members in the production, everyone comes together to work toward a common goal. The performance is truly children’s theater at its best and teaches our students how to stretch and grow.
When our students are given the opportunity to stand up on stage in front of an audience, they become more and more comfortable in their own skin. This comfort translates to other areas of their lives – from public speaking to job interviews—and allows them to better answer the important question, “Who am I?” Acting lets our students PRETEND, which is something that can feel considerably less threatening than being themselves. They do not feel vulnerable or exposed. Being in character is freeing and inspires creativity, imagination and personal growth.
As Head of School, I play the role of “Director” every day,. What I love about participating in the Inly Players’ performances is that I am no longer the Director but rather, a performer working alongside my fellow performers. The students have the opportunity to watch me and other adults stumble through lines or struggle to sing a high note. I think this experience is very encouraging and educational. It shows them how hard work pays off and how the rewards are appreciated at any age.
Middle School Internships and Project Week
Every fall and spring, the Middle School students at Inly School participate in Internship Week. The eighth graders spend this week off campus at a diverse array of internship host sites, which include everything from an organic farm to the Massachusetts State House.
To prepare for Internship Week, in seventh grade, Inly students participate in Project Week, a week on campus designed to prepare the students for future off-campus internships. During this week, the students complete the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, write their resumes, and begin planning for their internships.
Middle School aged children are fascinated with their roles in the larger society and eager to explore these roles through their own participation. An important part of their exploration of the world is that they have authentic work experiences. Inly’s Internship Program was created to give students the opportunity to experience this vital aspect of adolescent exploration and development. I’m so delighted that they’re able to do that.
This year, during Project Week, our Middle School students worked on launching the school-wide fundraising efforts for Heifer International. They visited the classrooms and helped the younger students choose a donation goal.
Another tradition that I love at Inly is Grandfriends’ Day. While this “holiday” is also celebrated at other schools, at Inly, our grandfriends have the chance to be a part of our community and see what makes Inly special. Giving children the ability to share their work with others in their family and in our community is huge treasure.
Inly Family Series
Inly hosts a series of fun and creative events for families on a few Sunday afternoons throughout the school year. This fall, we kicked off the year with Beats & Brushes and in December, we will be busy decorating gingerbread people in the Artsbarn.
These events are a wonderful way to bring our community together to do something fun and creative.
I hope it is clear from this long but certainly not exhaustive list of Inly Traditions that these events are like beautiful, colorful patches on the “quilt” that makes up the Inly experience. Fifty years from now, it is likely that our former students will not remember every little thing that they did in their classrooms each day. But the Inly Traditions and the moments that made them feel a part of something larger and something very special will be ingrained in their memories.