HEADlines Blog

Thoughts for February

As this is the month of hearts, flowers, acts of affection, and sweet treats let us remember these special four letter words and take them to heart and into action… not just in February but in the other 11 months of 2020!

LOVE   TIME   READ    KIND    DUTY    GIVE   

GROW    HELP    HEAL    HOPE    WISH    WOW

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, today is a gift which is why we call it the present!”

“Today is a good day for a good day!”

“Time is the most expensive thing we can give.  Spend it with love.”

A New Year…A New Decade

A new year… a new decade… a fresh start for new beginnings!  Ever hopeful, we ring in each new year!  And as with the other December holidays, traditions abound that unite families, cities, and even countries in welcoming another 365 days of possibilities.  I was raised to enjoy pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day for luck and my husband’s family made sure the meal also included black-eyed peas with a sweet relish to top it off.  Here a few more interesting traditions from across the globe!

In Spain, it is customary to eat 12 grapes – one at each stroke of the clock at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Each grape represents good luck for one month of the coming year. In bigger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, people gather in main squares to eat their grapes together and pass around bottles of Cava.

In hopes of a travel-filled new year, residents of Colombia carry empty suitcases around the block.  That’s one New Year’s tradition we can get behind!

Residents of Denmark greet the New Year by throwing old plates and glasses against the doors of family and friends to banish bad spirits. They also stand on chairs and jump off them together at midnight to “leap” into January in hopes of good luck.

In Finland people predict the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water, then interpreting the shape the metal takes after hardening. A heart or ring means a wedding, while a ship predicts travel and a pig declares there will be plenty of food.

To drive off evil spirits for a fresh New Year’s start, it is tradition to burn effigies (muñecos) of well-known people such as television characters and political figures in Panama. The effigies are meant to represent the old year.

During Scotland’s New Year’s Eve celebration of Hogmanay, “first-footing” is practiced across the country. The first person who crosses a threshold of a home in the New Year should carry a gift for luck. Scots also hold bonfire ceremonies where people parade while swinging giant fireballs on poles, supposedly symbols of the sun, to purify the coming year.

You’ll find round shapes all over the Philippines on New Year’s Eve as representatives of coins to symbolize prosperity in the coming year. Many families display piles of fruit on their dining tables and some eat exactly 12 round fruits (grapes being the most common) at midnight. Many also wear polka dots for luck.

In Brazil, as well as other Central and South America countries like Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela, it is thought to be lucky to wear special underwear on New Year’s Eve. The most popular colors are red, thought to bring love in the New Year, and yellow, thought to bring money.

An onion is traditionally hung on the front door of homes on New Year’s Eve in Greece as a symbol of rebirth in the New Year. On New Year’s Day, parents wake their children by tapping them on the head with the onion.

On January 2, the Cape Town Street Parade in South Africa (also known as Tweede Nuwe Jaar or Second New Year) sees thousands of colorfully dressed minstrels take to the streets in celebration.

As Tevye sang in the classic Broadway musical, Fiddler on the Roof– “and how do we keep our balance?  That I can tell you in one word… TRADITION!”

As you well know, we are deep in tradition @ the Woods, especially with the 2019-2020 academic year being our 50th anniversary for The Wood Acres School.  We embrace our traditions of the ginkgo tree and other school symbols, Constitution Day and special campus celebrations, as well as academic and learning traditions that enhance teaching and create a vibrant cohesive school family.  I am not sure our students will ever embrace my tradition of sauerkraut though!

As each of you have welcomed 2020, embrace your family traditions as well as the children and other family members who are part of the fiber of your lives throughout the new decade.  No one will remember page 50 in a textbook but each will remember the ceremonies and traditions of The Wood Acres School for another 50 years to come!

It’s beginning to look a lot like home, hearth, holidays and a new year! Oh my!

Gleeful anticipation is on the faces of the Wood Acres students as we welcome the month of December!  It is not the more serious anticipation of a math or language arts test, but the anticipation of surprises, school vacation, visitors, yummy treats, later bed times, special snacks, plays and pageants, tasty food, travel…you get the idea!  “Children see the holidays in anticipation.  Adults see them in memories.” 

May the anticipation that your children feel during this month “infect” you with wonder and joy.  And may the memories of holidays past yield new traditions for your families that each generation can enjoy.  May your home and hearth be filled with holiday magic and may the New Year reward you with continued health, hope, and happiness!

50th celebrations now in WA history

Our 50th celebrations are now in Wood Acres history, captured in hundreds of photos, and now a part of our rich tradition of inspiring young people to explore, discover, apply, and engage in learning.  It was a spectacular weekend in every way and we were so fortunate to have hundreds of past and present students, staff, and families join in the celebration. 

The 50th anniversary photo book is completed and we invite you to enjoy it any time in the school office lobby.  Pictures are worth 1,000 words and this book is full of tens of thousands!  We also have individual photo prints on display in the Newbery Room of the Stacks for students and staff to enjoy.  Sorry no ice cream or popsicle leftovers! 

Wood Acres certainly has a strong vibrant legacy as well as a rich history of which we are both proud and humbled.  Fifty years is a milestone any way you look at it!  But we are also looking toward the future and the next decades of our unique “Ginkgo” school. 

While strong instructional leadership is key to any successful organization, it is completely ineffective if the rest of the team is not in sync with that leadership and vision.  Wood Acres simply excels in this area.  We teach leadership classes and strategies to our students, we empower our faculty and staff to be leaders in their classrooms and model effective leadership skills, and we work together as a living organism that grows, innovates, and improves with the times.  We got this… and it has stood the test of time… for 50 years!

At this time of thankfulness, I am so honored to be the Head of this amazing school and the caretaker of your children’s education.  I thank each of you for making this milestone of 50 years possible!  God bless us everyone!

Judy Thigpen

50 years! What an accomplishment! What a legacy! What a success story! What a reason to celebrate!

While not as globally grand as walking on the moon, or musically influential as Woodstock, or eternally entertaining as Sesame Street, The Wood Acres School shares its 50th anniversary with these 1969 trailblazers.  Who would have known that The Wood Acres Country Day School begun in several rented cottages in what would become East Cobb would flourish into the 9+ beautiful acres and over 10 buildings that is the home of The Wood Acres School today. 

Dreams do become reality with hard work, team work and the providence of visionary faculty, staff, and administration.  Over the last 50 years Wood Acres has shared its vision of teaching, learning, and caring with 5 decades of students and their supportive families.  Just do the math- over 10,000 students have matriculated here as well as thousands of summer campers who enjoyed the simple joys of “fun in the sun”.  We have used the tools of learning well- hundreds of thousands of pages in text and library books, crayons and markers, pencils and erasers, as well as 21st century digital footprints- not on the moon- but in the minds and hearts of our wonderful students.  That does not even begin to mention the snacks eaten each day, the lunches devoured at noon, or the celebratory treats that come with birthdays, new siblings, campus wide events, and a classic gumball machine each Friday. 

5 Decades             600 Months           2609 Weeks            18,263 Days            438,312 Hours

26,298,720 Minutes            1,577,923,200 Seconds

It recalls the wonderful anthem from the Broadway musical “Rent”.    525,600 minutes   How do you measure a year?  In LOVE- seasons of LOVE!   We love what we do.  We love that what we do matters.  We love every opportunity when we can be an educational role model for our students.  We love to learn from them.  We love acorns, oak leaves, Ginkgos, compass roses, books, rallying around the flag, and celebrating reading, writing, arithmetic, respect and responsibility.  We are a school for all seasons and all the right reasons!

We celebrate our 200 seasons of love, laughter and learning!

CHEERS TO 50 YEARS!

Judy Thigpen

Today is my favorite day!

  • Today we welcomed our Kindergarten through 8th grade students as we began our exciting 50th year of serving the educational needs of students and their families.  No small feat for an independent school! 
  • Today we returned to a campus that is lovingly cared for and tended by an amazing team of faculty and staff. 
  • Today we embraced our strong traditions of teaching, learning, and caring that permeate all we know, see, say, and do.
  • Today we honor our past, begin this new school year NOW, and anticipate the WOW that the future holds for The Wood Acres School.

Today IS my favorite day!

Summertime

SUMMERTIME… and the livin’ is easy… hopefully for YOU!

At the Woods we are like ducks in the water each summer, calmly paddling along on the surface, yet working diligently beneath the water to have a productive summer that contributes to a great start to the 2019-2020 school year, our 50th!

The “Honey Do” list is always detailed- including deep campus cleaning, repairs, classroom moves, curriculum orders, curriculum review, team meetings, annual inspections, grounds upkeep, inventory, supply replenishing, planning and prep for WA staff kick off and family Meet and Greet to name just a few.  Layer over that the ongoing planning and coordination of all aspects of a robust summer camp 2019 (over 800 campers will have participated throughout the summer) and you can readily understand our “ducky” analogy! We are also well along with our exciting plans for a grand, family oriented 50th anniversary celebration!  You are cordially invited. Details will be posted on the website soon.

We still find time to enjoy a popsicle with campers, squirt each other with water, walk around this beautiful campus, and “kid watch” as the summertime for them is certainly easy, fun, joyous and the reason we exist! Enjoy your summer-if not actually on the beach- through the lens of your child splashing in a puddle pool, digging in the sandbox, and enjoying an easy summer day.

Make sure you enjoy a popsicle, too!


Graduation at Wood Acres

Graduation of The Wood Acres School’s current eighth graders followed the next day by an on campus Honors Assembly for all students annually wrap up each academic year @ the Woods. Each event is steeped in tradition and celebration as we bid our graduates a fond farewell and honor achievement in grades fourth through eighth.

While caps and gowns are left to high school and university graduations, Wood Acres mixes a bit of British history with our own twist. Graduates don a “sub fusc” which is a black open short robe with arm length epaulets. This garb originated in the United Kingdom for university undergraduates and that is where we purchase them. Graduates also wear two cords around their necks, symbolic of green for the Woods and gold and green to represent their stellar accomplishment in graduating from our outstanding school. Graduates get to keep one cord as a memento and the other is then passed to the rising eighth graders to wear at their ceremony the following year. A prelude of light classical music welcomes the procession of our graduates to the ceremony led by the Head of School and followed by the Upper School faculty led by the Principal. Faculty wear academic hoods over their shoulders in the colors of their last attended university.

Graduates at the Wood Acres ceremony are seen and heard as they have an opportunity to speak to the gathered family and friends as to their time @ the Woods, their next educational steps, and what the school has meant to them. This year’s class 2019, the largest ever, will speak in groups based on the length of time they have matriculated at Wood Acres. Many have been here for over 5 years- some since they were two years old! The Head of School and Principal share their thoughts as well to send them on their way with pride and accomplishment for a job well done.

Students are awarded their diplomas as well as the US Presidential Academic Excellence Award, International Spanish Academy diplomas given through the Embassy of Spain, and a Certificado de Asistencia from the Universidad de Pontificia if they participated in the study abroad trip to Spain.

The ceremony ends with a much more 21st century vibe as students and faculty recess to pop music the students selected to the cheers and tears of proud family and friends. After group photos, this special day culminates with a catered lunch for all, gifts for the grads, and some fond hugs and farewells.

Three Cheers for the Wood Acres Graduating Class of 2019!

Academic “Snapshots”

It’s rating sweeps time @ the Woods with #2 wooden Ticonderoga pencils sharpened to perfection and filled with natural lead and all the answers for our students to soar as they complete annual standardized assessments in 1st through 8th grade! Wood Acres administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT 10) and the Otis Lennon Ability Test each year to provide us with a nationally normed assessment that both informs our planning and teaching and lets us know how well Wood Acres students fare in comparison to students throughout the United States. Our students really enjoy these two weeks as homework is light, snacks are yummier, pencils are new, and parents give children extra hugs and high fives as they leave carpool each morning. While Wood Acres never brags on student achievement- we just expect it- I do think it is the perfect time to demonstrate a little Wood Acres “pride” in our students’ academic achievement while they are here and future successes as they graduate. Please enjoy these proud academic “snapshots” of our students as they learn, grow, and SOAR!

  • Wood Acres students historically score on the average in the 84th to 90th percentile in reading and mathematics as well as in the 85th to 95th percentile in the applied fields of social studies and science. (assessed in grades 3rd through 8th grades on the SAT 10) 
  • Wood Acres treats all students as gifted learners and results on the Otis Lennon Ability Test demonstrate that, while many Wood Acres students do score in the gifted range of ability, many are wonderfully average students, too. They ALL achieve in the highest ranges because that is how they are taught.
  • Wood Acres is one of only 100 International Spanish Academies in the United States and Canada and frequently receives commendation for programming and student progress in second language acquisition.  8th grade students also enjoy the opportunity of a lifetime to study and travel abroad in Spain each spring.
  • Wood Acres curriculum is nationally aligned with experts in each academic field and we adopt textbooks, technology, and materials that correlate well with our curriculum maps, scope and sequencing of teaching, and inter-grade collaboration of content and teaching approaches. We embrace no band wagon, flighty trends, or state-mandated core programs. The core of our school has always been, and will always be, our students and their overall successes as eager, bright, compassionate, and caring young men and women. They are the collective heartbeat of this uniquely wonderful school.
  • We are proud to announce that Wood Acres soon-to-be graduates in the Class of 2019 have been accepted at the following high schools and specialty programs in Georgia (to date of posting): Blessed Trinity High School, Mt. Vernon Presbyterian High School, Kings Academy, The Galloway School, Wheeler High School STEM Academy, The ISA Academy at Walton High School, International Baccalaureate Program at Campbell High School, and area public high schools and charter academies such as Pope, Pope STEM and Globalization programs, Lassiter, Kell, Roswell, Mt. Bethel, West Forsyth, Sprayberry STEM and ISLA programs, and Kennesaw Mountain magnet program.   We are thrilled with all of their accomplishments and are so excited to watch them SOAR forward in their new high schools!

Here’s to some amazing weeks to come celebrating our students, their successes, the families who support them, and The Wood Acres School!

Marching to a Different Drummer!

Some things just bear repeating!

The March HEADline from 2018 is one of those!  Many wonderful and unique things make Wood Acres a one-of-a-kind school, but the following HEADline highlights the very best of experiential learning that is offered to students anywhere!

In the world of sports, March Madness signifies the march to the final four and collegiate basketball glory.  Wood Acres March Madness is the march off campus for annual experiential overnight field trips involving planes, trains, boats and buses as our 4th through 8th graders embark on true field trip adventures that create once-in-a-lifetime memories for students, proving that what they study and the “real” world are truly one and the same!

Fourth graders’ destination is the sand, surf, flora, and fauna of Jekyll Island Environmental Center for three days and two nights of looking at the ocean and its living creatures in a whole new way.  Fifth graders head to Tennessee and Camp Widjiwagan Outdoor Center for three days and two nights of hands-on learning about the environment and themselves. Sixth graders traveled earlier this year to the Marine Lab in Key Largo, Florida to further their ecological studies of ocean, lagoon, and snorkeling during this wondrous adventure.  Seventh graders look at Washington, DC through the eyes of the Triumvirate of Democracy, as they experience first had the three branches of government- executive, judicial, and legislative.  It is a trip that is all about “We the People”!  Eighth graders celebrate their impending graduation with a capstone trip to Spain to learn how much they have learned in speaking another language and experiencing its culture.  Students live with host families, study at a renowned university and visit World Heritage Sites on their day trips during this two week sojourn there. 

March YES!  By plane, boat, train, and bus we take students to the learning.  With pre-trip study and superb planning, we take students to new heights of metacognition- knowing that they know what they know- on each and every trip.  Through passion for experiential learning with a faculty that generously gives of their time and talents on these adventures, Wood Acres students experience a one-of-a-kind education that is consistently “out of the box” and firmly tucked away in their minds and hearts.

This Matters At Wood Acres.

  • High Expectations For Teaching And Learning

  • Strong Instructional Leadership

  • Safe Learning Environment For Everyone

  • Positive And Welcoming School Climate

  • Valuing Time On Task For Mastery

  • Close Home School Partnerships