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The Handoff

The Handoff
JohnEric Advento

Welcome back to a new school year! It is an honor to be serving as Head of the Lower School at Wardlaw+Hartridge. It has been a joy welcoming so many of you back, and at the same time welcoming a new set of students and families to our W+H learning community. 

Thank you, to all of you, who have been following up with me as my family took our oldest son Simon to college. I mentioned in the August newsletter my worries that the send-off would include: the quick goodbye, and, the 2.5-hour drive home of ugly crying.

Well, only one of them rang true. The quick goodbye. Upon arrival, the college had current students with big carts awaiting incoming freshman students and their families. The drop-off was timed to support all the nesting time necessary for the parents. We were able to elevate his mattress on the bed frame, get the snacks and supplies put away under the bed, organize the desk, hang up command hooks in the wardrobe, and strategically set up the multiple fans for optimum temperature control. His triple was set up in less than an hour and we were left with extra time before the BBQ lunch. While my wife and daughter went to the library, Simon and I went straight to the Athletic Center. 

While we were checking out the training facility, Simon started getting text messages from his soon-to-be teammates. I could sense my son’s excitement to connect with some of the track and field athletes. And then it happened. A group of sprinters from the men’s team were gathered in the lobby. As we approached them, Simon shook some hands and began to make connections with his team. While my usual gregarious and outgoing self would have had me interjecting straight away, I simply paused and stood back. I watched and listened as my not-so-little son was, on his own, beginning to form those very important relationships and bonds with a new crew. 

This is also when the head coach and assistant coach made their way over to us.

Both coaches exuded gravitas and motivation, which was elevated when the head coach asked Simon if he was a “morning person.” Before Simon could answer him, he responded, “Well you will be now, because we have two 5:45 a.m. workouts a week!” We all smiled and it was at that moment, I knew my son was going to be fine.

Perhaps I did not experience the 2.5 hours of ugly crying because I was able to hand off my son to these adult advocates? It was not until I met the coaches, that I truly got a sense of comfort and sincere excitement for my son. These are two trusted adults who will be champions for him to be a better athlete and ultimately a better person. 

Much like the hand off I experienced at Marist College, I relate this very much to our work here at Wardlaw+Hartridge, as educators of your children. As parents, you have actively engaged in your Parent Partnership Conferences with each of your children’s homeroom teachers. Every morning when you hand off your children, we respect that you entrust us to be advocates and champions for your children. I am deeply grateful for your PARTNERSHIP with our Lower School faculty and staff. Thank you for providing us with this awesome responsibility at Wardlaw+Hartridge. I look forward to a wonderful year together!