Planting a Community: Special Supplies Kick Off the New School Year

Adrian ’34 shows off his new spider plant, which was just one of the materials he picked up when he and his brother Nicholas ’30 attended the Lower School’s supply pickup. It’s not just for decoration—this plant is a symbol of community during distance learning. Prekindergarten teacher Katie Kunin has the mother plant, and each student has one of the baby plants.

“We had the idea to send a plant home with each PK student as a way to connect to our campus classroom and connect to each other,” says prekindergarten teacher Kathleen Geier, noting that she and Kunin also sent home pots and soil. “Each of us is caring for that connection in a real way through our care of the spider plant baby. The kids seem thrilled and proud to be a part of this experience and are sharing pictures of their plants already. And mother and babies seem to be thriving!”

The supply pickup also had another meaning; in small, physically distanced, masked groups, each Lower Schooler got to meet their teachers and some of their classmates, as well as see friends they may not have seen since March.

“The teachers led us to our group tent and we talked about some stuff,” Nicholas said. “Like what you did over the summer and what’s your favorite ice cream flavor, and then we picked up our bags, went to the car, and went home.”

The bags contained academic supplies, but also a Meeting for Worship kit put together by Melissa Merideth (P ’27, P ’30), clerk of the Lower School Quaker Life Committee, and the committee’s vice clerk, Noreen Muhib (P ’ 27, P ’30, P’ 33). For Adrian, the most exciting supply was a computer he wouldn’t have to share with his brother.

For the Lower School faculty, the in-person pickup also meant more than getting reading, writing, and other learning materials into students' hands. 

"I miss the energy of our kids on campus. I miss seeing their faces, hearing their stories, and getting to spend a little one-on-one time with them, and I know our teachers do as well," said Lower School principal Adele Paynter. "Seeing the kids again was good for all of our souls and was just the spark we needed to energize us for the week ahead. And it was just plain fun!"

Even though Nicholas got used to distance learning at the end of the 2019/20 academic year, starting again is still causing a few start-of-year jitters. But he and Adrian both have advice for themselves and their friends.

“Don’t be nervous,” Adrian said.

“Your friends are going to be with you,” Nicholas said. “You don’t have to be scared.”

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