The Fall Open House – 250 Attendees, Four Strands and One Motivating Outcome
On Sunday, September 25th, over 100 families with prospective ninth grade students from across the greater Boston community experienced the Gann Open House, a compelling capture of what makes Gann tick. The afternoon program began with two moving songs by the ShenaniGanns, Gann’s award-winning student a cappella group. Rabbi Marc Baker then welcomed the attendees and spoke to the importance of the students finding a high school experience that they will truly love, an experience that will, in large part, define who they will become. He also shared that, as a parent of an eighth grader, he was looking at the question of high school through a different lens and offered up what he believes parents want from a school:
“We want a school that is going to see and know our children, to develop their capabilities and push them to reach their potential; ultimately, we want them to graduate from high school ready—to face the world; to succeed and thrive in college, the workplace, life—and to be happy and fulfilled. This means academically ready, of course, with skills, knowledge, intellectual confidence, and, we want them to be mensches—to make responsible choices as they become independent adults, to give back. And we want them to know who they are and where they come from—to have a strong sense of self as they make their way through this changing and challenging world. We know that being part of the Jewish community and finding meaning in Judaism will help give them this confidence and sense of self.”
He made the point that such a multi-faceted outcome of readiness can only be realized via an education that intentionally weaves together four essential strands, strands that Gann uniquely delivers: preparing our students with the highest level of academic skills and knowledge; character education and ethical responsibility; creating opportunities for students to pursue their passions and find their unique voices; and strengthening Jewish identity and our students’ sense of self.
The families were then given the opportunity to experience readiness development in the classroom with five different model sessions and to talk directly with department chairs and staff at the Info Fair. The final element of the program was a moving speech by Jonathan Gould, a Gann alumnus from the class of 2006 and currently a student at Harvard Law School. Jonathan’s story was the perfect culmination to the day, highlighting how the strands impacted his development and his readiness for college, career, and life.
A New Year, A New Look: The Gann Lobby Makeover
You can’t miss it. Visitors to Gann are now met with a bold and engaging motif and display of messages in the lobby and Dining Hall that succinctly capture the personality, the purpose, and the values of the school. It’s a perfect celebration of the new year and a fresh and fun take on what Gann is all about. A bright red, eight-foot long “Welcome” in both English and Hebrew at the reception window is bested by a 30-foot long “Ready for Tomorrow”, capturing the declared intent of the school, to prepare our graduates for the 21st century and all the opportunities and challenges they will face. Contemporary furnishings, modular seating areas, and high top tables underscore the message by providing enticing places for collaboration and conversation.
A new comfortable seating area in the main alcove is around the corner from a bright red wall that contains motivating quotes from five distinct Jewish voices from the past. The compelling statements, in both English and Hebrew, range from Bob Dylan’s “I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with freedom” to Hannah Senesh, a paratrooper during World War II, who once declared, “One needs something to believe in, something for which one can have whole-hearted enthusiasm. One needs to feel that one's life has meaning, that one is needed in this world.” The words capture the depth and breadth of Jewish understanding while providing encouragement to the students to think and act with courage and conviction.
The final element of the makeover extends into the Dining Hall where visitors, students, and staff are exposed to the four values, each rendered in red, 20-foot English and Hebrew lettering. Care, Connect, Strive and Create are now constant reminders to all and an apt guide as we head into the new year.