Hello everyone, my name is Tyler A., and I’m a senior who has been at Waterford for seven years now. I’ve always lived just down the street from here, and so for almost every day of my life, before I began attending, I would drive by the school having no idea what was held on this campus. I never gave it a second thought until I came in sixth grade. When I began here, I was coming out of a very strenuous time of my life. I’d spent my last year of elementary school in and out of the hospital for weeks at a time; and during this period, I was also realizing that I no longer fit in the school I was at. Even though I was attending a K-8 school, my family and I both knew that my time there was coming to an end. Academically I needed something more, something that could challenge and benefit me. I’d grown out of the environment and culture that was provided, and on top of this, only having twenty other kids in my entire grade was getting a little boring.

As all of these issues became more and more true, my family quickly realized that Waterford would be the next place for me, so much so that I think it was the only school we bothered looking at. Despite this, I never actually got the opportunity to take a tour here, because every time we would schedule one, I’d end up back in the hospital, unable to go. Each time this happened though, Waterford unhesitatingly rescheduled it for us, until eventually my parents simply decided to go on their own. My first impressions of Waterford weren’t from being on this campus, but they came in knowing that the school was already incredibly willing to accommodate my situation, something which I hadn’t necessarily found at the school I was at at the time. On top of this, I got to imagine for myself a room filled with animals that my parents told me about, which included a real and life-sized elephant head, that the school just happened to own for some reason. 

The first time that I did end up stepping foot on this campus, I knew I was walking into a community that welcomed me, and would let me thrive as the person I, both, am and wanted to become; and this idea has held true for me for the past seven years. Through the liberal arts, each year has given me new opportunities to better understand myself in what I care about and what I value. Every single important thing that I ended up putting on my college applications this year, started out with something like a required class in middle school or showing up to a random club with a friend and no expectations. I’ve found out that I care about art way more than I ever thought I could, all because I had to pick an instrument in sixth grade and take an intro photo class in eighth. Along with this, I’ve also watched as my friends, who chose the art paths that I didn’t, excel in them. While I never found a passion for oil painting or singing, Waterford has still given me an appreciation for the arts that has allowed me to be amazed every time I’ve gone to a choir concert, or something like the AP Studio Art Display we had last week.

Beyond art, I’ve also learned to love every academic space I’ve entered. Just like everyone else, when I started taking Latin in sixth grade I thought it was a little weird and maybe even pointless at first, but I almost immediately grew to love the subject, and those classes will forever define my middle school experience. Similarly, in my very first term here, I got to take Biology with Mr. Bromley, in that room full of animals I’d heard about. Even though that class might’ve given me the lowest grade I’ve ever received at Waterford, I was still excited to show up every day and hear Mr. Bromley talk about how he was able to get that Elephant head. Experiences like these have followed me each year since, and I’ve grown with every one of them.

Back in sixth grade, I had no idea what I might want to do as a career in the far future. In eighth grade I thought that, maybe because I wasn’t that bad at math, Engineering might be the field for me. By the time I got to tenth grade, I shifted a little, towards wanting to become a politician. And now that I’m four weeks away from becoming an adult, and five away from graduating, that far future isn’t exactly so far anymore. But despite this, I’m back to having absolutely no idea what I might want to do for work. The only things I can confidently say are that if I became an engineer, I know I’d hate my job, and if I became a politician, I know I’d hate myself.

Even though I don’t know about my future career-wise, at the start of this year, I was very confident about what I wanted to study. When I thought about the academics I loved the absolute most, I thought about Art, English, History, Anthropology, and Politics. From there, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to pursue Cultural Studies. It combined everything that I loved learning about the most, and I wasn’t forced into picking just one subject. While I can remember every moment, teacher, and class that developed these subjects for me, I’ve also watched my peers have the same experiences but with their own interests. As I began to lean toward the humanities, I saw plenty of my friends discover themselves to be incredible coders, chemists, mathematicians, and much more. Having around me, this community of people who care about so many different things has given me an appreciation for every one of those things. While I’m happy to say that I will be enrolling in a Cultural Studies program, what I didn’t expect is that I’ll probably be concentrating on either Environmental Science or AI and Human Interaction, within cultural studies. Four months ago I would’ve never imagined myself studying something like that, but the more that I’ve thought about it, I’ve realized that not only am I fully prepared to do so, I’m also excited for it. I’ve certainly learned about AI in my computer science classes, but we also talk about it constantly in Ethics. This year, sustainability hasn’t only come up in my AP Environmental Science class, but often in English as well. Even though this wasn’t what I expected my future to look like, I’m fully confident that I’ll be able to take it on and enjoy doing so. Waterford has given me the ability to pursue anything I want or need to, and the liberal arts has opened me up to every option.

When thinking about college, I knew I wanted to replicate this. Waterford has given me so much that I was desperate to find a school where I could get this same experience. I was dead set on a liberal arts college in the suburbs, with between 400 to 2,500 students. I was trying to take the best parts of Waterford with me, but that’s not where I’ve actually ended up. Instead of meeting this dream, I had for myself several months ago, I’ll be going to a university with 42,000 students, in the center of a major city. Even though this school is clearly the right place for me for so many other reasons, I was scared of considering it all because of these very few. Just like with their academics, it was unexpected and I didn’t know if I could handle it. 

Unlike when I entered Waterford, I’ve gotten the chance to tour dozens of schools in the past two years. During my tour of the school I plan on attending, the guide said something that stood out to me. She herself was only a few months away from graduating from the university, and she mentioned that she thinks “You should be ready to leave when it’s time to go.” I completely agreed with her, but at the time, I didn’t know what this meant for me. I thought I was ready because I wasn’t afraid of leaving home, but my past few months at Waterford have made me realize that there’s more to it. Today happens to be decision day, where at midnight all of us seniors need to have picked where we’re going next. While I’m amazed at some of my friends who are still taking their last bit of time to decide, I’m grateful that these are the last few hours where I have to hear people worrying about college. Recently, as we’ve all been talking, and talking, and talking constantly about our futures and what we’re nervous about, I’ve found personally, that, not only do I need to be okay with leaving here, I need to be okay with going somewhere new.

I don’t know what my Waterford journey has meant to me yet, because not only is it not over, but I haven’t gotten the chance to see what my time here will build me into. I know who I am now, towards the end of this journey, and I know who I was at the start of it, but I can only envision the future it will push me into, and this future might change. It already has done so for me in the past four months alone. Just as I was ready seven years ago, to go from a class size of 20 to 70, I trust that I’m prepared to now go from 70 to 10,000. It’s the changes that matter the most, and Waterford has prepared me to take on these changes in whatever way they may come. Thank you.

Hi! I’m Lauren W., and as you all know, I’m a soon to be graduating senior. When I was asked to speak about my journey at Waterford, it felt like a huge task, because how do you fit eleven years into 5 minutes? Let’s start at the beginning. I don’t remember a ton about the first time I stepped foot on campus, but I distinctly recall two things. 1) I was wowed by the huge campus and kind people I met; and 2) They gave me a free bagel. And that bagel laid the foundation for a decade of other wonderful memories on campus.

I came to Waterford in second grade as a generally interested student but with no real direction—I was seven. In an environment saturated with opportunities, Waterford took these mere interests, and with a scaffolding in Lower School and constant support in middle school, allowed me to transform them into passions that define who I am now. For example, when I got to Waterford, I had already been playing violin since kindergarten, but joining the orchestra in middle school ignited my passion for playing with others, and Mrs. Morris has pushed me to join chamber and ensemble, become a section leader in the orchestra, and even lead a sextet.

I enjoyed Latin in middle school and thought it was harmless to continue, and teachers like Ms. Poole and Dr. Stout guided me through the years until I finally reached Latin 7 this year. Each year forward, I learned to appreciate the beauty and nuances of not just Latin, but language in general. Now, I annually compete in a national competition, and even hosted a Lower School Latin summer camp a couple of years ago. 

I joined lower school robotics in fifth grade because it sounded cool, and robots were cool, and now I’m the self-taught head coder and former captain of the upper school robotics team. Now I help teach the lower school roboticists, and it’s insane to get to see where I was just eight years ago.

I’ve also dipped my toes into trumpet, viola, chess club, ballet, photography, volleyball, science olympiad, and even crochet club. 

If you ask any student on campus what they’ve done during their time at Waterford, they’ll have a similar list. Because we’ve all learned to appreciate learning and to welcome new skills and experiences. And at Waterford, we’re taught to say yes to things, only bound by the hours in the day, and just an attitude of “why not?” will cultivate new passions you never even thought possible. 

For someone like me, driven by an intense sense of FOMO, Waterford is both an exhilarating and a devastating place to be. Exhilarating because of the sheer abundance of activities and opportunities, and devastating because it is not physically possible to indulge in all of them. There was a point in my sophomore year where I would have had to quadruple block Z-block the next year with volleyball, robotics, ensemble, and AP photography. Each of those activities was extremely important to me, and I was devastated to have to pare down my interests. Looking back, this was a great problem to have. 

Waterford has not only offered me an unlimited buffet of new experiences, but it has also taught me that showing up, putting in years of effort, and applying yourself for the sake of learning and for your communities allows you to not only enjoy your smorgasbord of opportunities, but also to take the next step forward in leadership, responsibility, and important roles that you might have never imagined yourself capable of before. 

The last and, honestly, most important point I have regards the passionate communities I’ve found at Waterford. Whether it be robotics, science olympiad, my second violins, my sextet, summer camps, research partners, or student ambassadors, I’ve forged relationships that will last a lifetime. Given all the activities we cram into our schedules, the student body has become a tight-knit web of involved students—everyone is interconnected in some way, making the pursuit of our own passions and knowledge immensely more rewarding. 

The overall takeaway I’ve gathered from my years on campus is that, much like bagels, Waterford hands you opportunities. And generally, whatever you want to do, you can do it here. I’m extremely grateful for the support, mentorship, and friendships provided to me throughout my years by the Waterford community.  

When I was little, my dream for my life was to go to MIT and make a ton of money working in a science lab. While making a ton of money in a lab probably isn’t that realistic, I am still going to MIT to be a chemical engineer. Waterford helped me take my dream further than I could ever have imagined. In the fall, I’m auditioning for MIT’s symphony orchestra, I’m planning on being part of a humanities-oriented learning community, and I’m even planning on minoring in linguistics or classics. Younger me would have been greatly surprised. But all I had to do was enjoy that bagel, and at Waterford, the rest came naturally. Thank you.

Dear Parents, Faculty, School Leaders, Staff, and Students: First of all, thank you for the opportunity to share our experience as Parents of this wonderful school. I would like to start sharing our journey into Utah and the Waterford school.

In April of 2015, I was offered a position in Utah for “2 years” (in quotes). At that time, my family and I lived in Lima, Peru; our hometown. This was an exciting and unique opportunity not only for me but also for our family. At that time, our 3 daughters were 12, 9 and 7 years old. Claudia, my wife, and I had several considerations before making the move, but the most important one was the school of our daughters. In Lima, they were attending a private catholic school with very high academic standards and full immersion into the English language. Most importantly, all 3 were very adapted and happy there. So, for us, the main risk of our move was the change of schools. Fortunately, prior to our permanent move, we had the opportunity to visit several schools in Utah, and one strongly recommended by a colleague was Waterford. We were very lucky to be received by Todd Winters from the Admissions office. Todd was very caring, kind and extremely informative about the process and the school itself. It was with very mixed emotions that we left Peru; leaving close family and friends is always hard.

In August of 2015, our 3 daughters started at Waterford in 6th, 4th, and 2nd grades. I clearly remember, as if it was yesterday, our first encounter with the Waterford community at the beginning of the 2015 school year brunch. A few families, faculty and staff welcomed us very kindly.

After this introduction and reflecting on our 9 years as part of this beautiful Waterford Community, I would like to highlight the following key aspects on the Waterford school:

1) The Waterford school is a community: we, the Parents, become Partners with the Faculty and Administration; and we get to know each other so well that I personally consider the Waterford community our extended family.

2) Unique Values: my family and I have always been treated with respect, kindness, and a sincere purpose of well-being for the overall family. This is something very special that distinguishes Waterford in a unique way.

3) Highest Academic Standards: when I think of the Academics at Waterford, the first aspect that comes to my mind is its faculty. The faculty is so well prepared, with the highest credentials, yet humble and kind to guide their students and we, the Parents. The Liberal Arts curriculum is the second aspect that provides a well-rounded education to our children. I wasn’t that familiar with the curriculum at first, but I experienced firsthand how versatile a student can be at Waterford: starting in the morning with a science course, learning a 2nd or 3rd language, going to the ceramics studio during lunch, to play in the Orchestra early afternoon, and to finish the day catching the bus to go to their tennis tournament. This all becomes live and clear to us during Parents Day—my favorite activity at Waterford—where we can actually experience firsthand a day at Waterford with our children.

4) Parent-Teacher Conferences: our last Parent-Teacher conferences were this past April. This is when you recognize how deep the Waterford teachers know their students. Of course, they will go into the academics, and point out the areas that our children are mastering, areas to improve; and advice on how to get there. However, I am very appreciative of all the caring and advice that we have received for non-academic aspects, really caring about them as human beings.

5) Students’ Critical Thinking and Leadership Skills: critical thinking and being a leader are two skills that summarize a Waterford student. Not only is the technical expertise that a student will achieve in a given subject at Waterford but most importantly deep thinking from different points of view and angles, strong writing skills while becoming leaders of the student council, the various clubs, activities and sports here at Waterford.

6) Music: Music at Waterford is so special, the Orchestra, the Choir, the Jazz band. Each student is given the great opportunity to learn how to play an instrument or to fully develop their voice. I love the different performances. The Orchestra is very well known to all my family in Peru, during COVID years, Mrs. Morris highlighted that she had the most views from Peru for one of her concerts. Moreover, I not only attended the performances that my daughters participated in but also the Jazz band, I love this music. In fact, one night as I was leaving the band concert, Andrew Menke said “hi”, but had an intrigued look, and I said to him, “Yes, none of my daughters play in the band, but my dad loved Jazz and I love the Band here at Waterford.” He laughed and thanked me for coming.

7) Waterford Leaders, Administration & Staff: I cannot thank you enough, these are great people who are always there to support us: Nancy Nebeker, Ms. O’Malley, Andrew Menke, Brandon Bennett, Nicole Miranda and Todd Winters to name a few, the list is long and please forgive me for not naming all. These wonderful people support us throughout our journey. A journey that has many challenges with teenagers that are smart and curious and want to explore the world fully.

With a heavy heart, we, the Paredes Bravo Family, have to say goodbye to this wonderful school and community.

As you can tell, I really don’t want to leave this beautiful community. I hope these words inspire you to get more involved in and value all the things the Waterford community has to offer. I leave you with a quote from Andrew Menke from the most recent Parents Day: “Go to everything; you won’t regret it, and you won’t get back time”. Thank you ALL, you will always be in our Hearts!

Good morning. I’m Kristi Watabe and I am a proud parent of Lauren in Class XII. I’m also the proud parent of Seth, a 2022 graduate. Many of you know that I am a Lower School Science teacher here at Waterford, and I’m an alum from the Class of 1990. I’m also the daughter of Merrilee Hanson, a Waterford founding faculty member and administrator, and I’m married to an alum too, Jeff is also from the class of ‘90. I know what you are thinking, “Kristi, you should probably get out more!”

I mention these things because they give me a unique perspective on the school and on its people through time. I’ve been connected to Waterford since I was about 9 years old. More recently, I taught about half of this year’s graduating class back when they were about 9 years old, and I could probably write another talk about the fun and sometimes crazy memories I have just about them! They really are a notable and impressive group! As their LS teacher, I remember them as curious, creative, quirky, funny, messy, athletic, unbelievably smart, interested, and kind. It’s great to see that they are still all of these things, and more. 

As parents, we all want what is best for our curious, quirky, and messy children. We want them to be successful in school and in life. That’s a tall order, and success looks different for all kids, so we are lucky that we don’t have to raise them alone. We have a large group of people here at Waterford to help us mold and develop successful humans. I view the Waterford community as a large, supportive family in a small village set up specifically to help support this development. 

Waterford has top rate academics, but the Waterford experience is about more than the phenomenal academics and the beautiful facilities. What’s at least as important is the people in the village and the relationships with skilled and caring teachers, administrators, friends, and all of you! It’s about having a safe space to experience challenging and engaging ideas and projects with support from all sides. 

All of our kids have grown together and have progressed through some crazy times that tie us together. I’m thinking back to the third grade Egyptian, Greek, and Roman dress up days, orthodontia, Middle School dances, drivers’ ed, the pandemic, and college applications!, and our kids have always had a supportive network of adults who truly want the best for them.

I’ve felt that tremendous support from the beginning from my own Waterford teachers and from the amazing teachers and administrators my kids have had the privilege of working with. Waterford today feels just like it did when I attended, and that is something special. That is why the Watabes are here. We value the safety, the support, the experiences, and the nurturing.

My daughter had a hard time deciding which of her teachers to ask to write her college letters of recommendation because she has developed strong bonds and relationships with all of them. Many have known her since she was very young, and I am so grateful for those connections and for that history.

Because Lauren is my youngest, I have been doing a lot of emotionally charged reflecting lately, and clearly I’m not the only one here going through that. During my reflections, I keep thinking about a handful of teachers and staff here who have had the biggest direct impact on our family, and on Lauren in particular. I’m super fortunate to know all of these people from several angles, and I can attest that they are the very best people. They care about their work and about our children, and it’s clear that this is more than just a job for them. Their days start early and end late. Once a month or so I arrive at school at about 6:30 in the morning, don’t ask! There are cars in the faculty and staff parking lots before I arrive. Many are here on weekends, during school breaks, and over the summer. Most take turns at dances, supervise carpool time before literally sprinting to their first classes, lead clubs, and coach sports after hours…taking that little bit of extra time so that our children can have just a little more of them. It’s that kind of exceptional commitment and devotion that makes Waterford the best, but it’s also about the caring I clearly see on top of all of that. I’ll share just a few examples: 

Many of you know Mrs. Morris. She’s a powerful strings teacher who loves each of her students deeply and really cares about what’s happening in their lives, and she expects kids to do their very best. She devotes countless lunches, weekends, and out of school hours to her students. She is like a second mother to my child, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate her influence. She regularly brings her famous homemade meatballs to celebration lunches after orchestra performances, and when my daughter recently had a cut on her finger, Mrs. Morris took the time to help her Liquid Bandage it back together so she could continue playing on her violin strings without pain. 

Lauren has built amazing connections with Ms. Orton, Ms. Callens, and Ms. Poppen in math, physics, and biology over the years too. They are always quietly listening and watching for ways to support her in STEM and in life. They don’t wait for Lauren to ask for help, they always just appear at the right time. 

Lauren is also a four year member of the robotics team. Mr. Harris’s endless energy and unbelievable patience with a room full of teens wielding power tools has been inspiring to watch. The number of after-school hours he devotes to robotics is simply staggering! 

Dr. Osipovitch has to be mentioned too. His passion for chemistry and his phenomenal teaching ability helped my kid decide pretty quickly that she wants to study chemical engineering in college! He has made a powerful and long-lasting impression on her in chemistry and with the Science Olympiad team.

In addition, Ms. Poole and other language teachers regularly give up their well-deserved lunch breaks so that students like Lauren can pursue advanced Latin and other languages through Independent Study under their supervision. It’s not an expectation here that teachers do that kind of thing, it just happens.

In the humanities, many teachers have turned my STEM-loving kid into a true student of the liberal arts. Lauren can write, she can chat about European art, she can have a conversation in Spanish, she has translated several classics from Latin to English, and her photography and videography are magnificent. My husband and I see these skills as beautiful and treasured gifts from her talented and devoted teachers. 

In Lower School, so many phenomenal teachers provide amazing enrichment opportunities in core subjects and in the liberal arts too. And, I can’t forget the staff. Every person here from the secretaries to the crossing guards contributes to the experience that is Waterford.

Our kids have been given a true gift, and I hope that someday soon they will take the time to reflect on just how special Waterford and its people are. Later in life, they may think back and remember the wins with their athletic teams, or the dances, or the homework load, but it really is the people and the relationships that make this place extra special. I know my husband and I are forever grateful for the entire experience and for the privilege we’ve had to attend and to see our kids thrive and grow here. I know I will encourage Lauren to start really thanking the adults here who have influenced her the most over the years.

To the parents of graduating seniors: This is such a hard time, but we’re going to get through it. We need to be focused on what our kids are gaining, and not on what we are losing. Be so proud and so grateful for this amazing, foundational experience, and at the same time, look forward to those new adventures with new amazing people in whichever village your child lands in next. 

Then, open a bottle of something and make a toast to yourselves. Because you deserve the congratulations too.

I’d like to thank all of you. Please know that our family values the connections we’ve made with each of you in all of the ways that we know you. It has been a pleasure to raise children alongside you in this very special place. I wish all of you and your families the very best.

I’m Chris Ross. I love Waterford; everyone who works here, learns here, and all who support the work and learning—including you, fellow parents. It’s a privilege to share a few reflections with you.

We moved to Utah in November 2002 from Colorado. We had two little boys in tow—Parke was 5 and Duke was 3—and I was looking for a Montessori school. A colleague of my husband’s told us about an amazing independent school we should consider.  My husband (also named Chris) and I met Todd Winters, learned about the Waterford Pre-K program, and fell in love with the school and the program (We fell a little in love with Todd, too. Because don’t we all?), and we enrolled Parke in the one remaining spot in PreK-4. Duke began the following year.

In 5-8 minutes, it’s impossible to cover worthy highlights from the 20+ years at Waterford. We’re enormously proud of our sons and indescribably grateful for the teachers, administrators, students, families, and experiences that have helped shape them. I could share specific academic, performative, or creative accomplishments, but my husband and I are most proud of the thoughtful, decent young adults that the collective Waterford helped us raise.

Even though Waterford’s core values weren’t formally identified many years ago, they were there: integrity, excellence, curiosity, responsibility, and caring. I’d like to share a few unconventional ways our sons experienced those values.

Parke, our oldest, had only been in PreK-4 for three months when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. His teacher, Erin Knight, gently guided the decision to seek medical advice after Parke had had two accidents at school in one day. 

She knew. I didn’t.

We got him to the hospital that same day, narrowly heading off a more dangerous situation. We’re so thankful for Erin’s intelligence and graceful conviction.

Parke wouldn’t want his Waterford legacy to be that he had diabetes, but his diagnosis was the beginning of countless examples of compassion and kindness. When he checked his blood sugar throughout the day in kindergarten, his teacher, Robin Ward, used the results as a math lesson. “Is Parke’s blood sugar greater than or less than it was last time?”  

When Parke experienced an insulin reaction, friends and students never panicked; instead, they calmly notified a responsible adult or helped him if they were able. Once the situation was handled, everyone returned to recess, cross country meets, regattas, exams, or hanging out on the quad. Teachers, students, parents—everyone approached Parke’s diagnosis with respect and benevolence.

Duke, our middle son, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in August 2012, three days before his 13th birthday and a week before his Class VII school year began. Duke received the same support and care that Parke did.

But that’s not my story about Duke. [And spoiler alert, I’ll get to our third son, Redmond, but he does NOT have Type 1 diabetes.]

In PreK4, Duke became enamored with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer after a school activity—so much so that he embodied Rudolph for three weeks. A long time when your young son refused to answer to his name—only Rudolph—and insisted we tape paper antlers and a red nose to his head 24 hours a day.

At first, Duke’s teachers found his method acting amusing. Then, one day, they approached me. 

“Chris, is there any way we can have Duke leave his Rudolph pretend play at home during school? It’s distracting the other children.”

 We’d already had Duke enter our room in the middle of the night with a paper antler in his hand, “Dad. My antler came off.” 

Chris – whose side of the bed was near the door — was tired and said, “Duke, it’ll just come off again.” 

Duke said, “It’s Rudolph, and I need my antler.” 

Chris started sleeping with scotch tape by the bed for Rudolph’s middle-of-the-night repairs.

So, I said to the teacher, “Go ahead. Remove the antlers and nose.”

I’ve said this about all three of our sons, but when they were young, trying to get them to do anything they didn’t want to do was like trying to baptize a cat. 

Duke wore the antlers and nose until he was ready to be finished.

Ultimately, Duke’s diabetes diagnosis and his “becoming Rudolph” phase were again handled with respect and benevolence.

Our third and youngest son, Redmond, arrived in September 2005. I actually went into labor in the carpool line. It was a Friday afternoon, and I was waiting for Duke—who was in kindergarten—when I started vocalizing through contractions. Robyn Ward was Duke’s teacher, and she asked how I was doing as she buckled him into his car seat. 

“I’m in labor,” I told her. 

After convincing a very concerned Robyn that I felt there was enough time, I drove myself to the hospital, and Redmond arrived a few hours later. Parke and Duke welcomed him in their Waterford uniforms. 

On a side note, Robyn Ward passed away four years later at the age of 49 due to a pulmonary embolism. She was an absolute gem.

Redmond went through a phase for a few years where he didn’t want his dad or me to watch his performances or see any special lower school exhibits. He was comfortable with other teachers and parents but not us.

At one point, he agreed to let us pay him to attend concerts. For $15 each, we could sit in the back of the concert hall if we entered and exited discreetly. This worked for a while until his concert tickets were too expensive. His ticket price increased to $100 each between kindergarten and third grade. We missed a few performances at that point.

For Famous Person Day, I tried a new strategy. “Redmond, that’s fine if you don’t want us to see your work, but I want to see all your friends’ projects. You’re not being fair to them or us.”

He allowed us to attend but with rules. We could make one pass around the gym, our backs towards him at all times, and if we accidentally faced him, there could be no eye contact. 

Redmond’s teacher, Colleen Thompson, saw us exit the gym and asked if we’d seen Redmond’s Walt Disney art. She knew about our rules but figured we’d probably catch a glimpse. We hadn’t – because we obeyed the rules – and Redmond scared us. 

She said, “You have to go back and take a look—his Walt Disney looks like he walked out of the Castro District.” 

I’d helped Redmond with his conservative costume and assumed his paper creation would be similar. A friend snapped a photo for us. Castro District Walt Disney still hangs in our kitchen.

Over the past twenty-plus years, as a community, we’ve all either experienced or been touched by illness, death, divorce, struggle, birth, marriage, abundance, setbacks, and growth. Bearing witness to each other’s lives has been an intimate and beautiful gift.

Whether Waterford is your child’s school for a short period of time or a more extended period, your presence here matters. I genuinely believe that. The same goes for teachers and administrators, regardless of tenure. Every person leaves something important here. 

I hope our sons, Chris, and I, have left a fraction of what we’re taking with us from Waterford. Because we’re taking a lot from this place. We wholeheartedly thank every single person—past and present—who’s supported and cheered for our family. We will continue supporting and cheering for Waterford and all who spend a portion of their lives here.

We will miss you. 

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