From Where I Stand

From Where I Stand
Russell Shaw

ON THE FRIDAY BEFORE WINTER BREAK, hundreds of Lower School families gathered in the LMS gymnasium for the Christmas Assembly, one of GDS’s oldest traditions. The assembly dates to our School’s opening in 1945, when our founders decided that one way to build an intentionally inclusive school was to allow for “participation in each other’s days of joy.” And so Christmas and Passover were both celebrated in that first year, with many other celebrations added in the 77 years since. This old tradition was made new, however, as it was the first time that we were able to celebrate it on our unified campus, and it marked the first in-person Lower School assembly to include families since 2019.


Lower School Christmas Assembly 2022

Lower School Christmas Assembly

As the PK and Kindergarten angels came a-wassailing into the gym, one could feel a magical fairy dust coursing through the campus. That magic extended into that morning’s Middle School celebration and across the street to the High School, where layered a cappella harmonies wafted down from the balcony and the Morris Dancers executed intricate choreography with precision and joy.

This issue of Georgetown Days celebrates journeys. Learning journeys can transform, whether through overseas study, the forging of global connections with penpals, or learning about immigration by mapping the journeys to the United States undertaken by GDS community members. Some journeys give our students the opportunity to explore in the District and beyond, and you’ll read about those as well.

Sometimes the impact of a journey is felt most powerfully in coming home. Like the rest of the world, GDS traveled a challenging, circuitous, and multiyear journey as we navigated a global pandemic. Our journey separated us from classrooms (Zoom school), from human connection (remember social distancing?), from smiles that were hidden behind masks, and from the rituals and traditions that have been foundational to how we build culture.

First Friday (Credit: Kaiden Yu '23)

First Friday (KaidenYu '23)

In the wake of these separations, this year’s homecoming has been that much sweeter. In early December at our first Choral Extravaganza in three years, when singers in grades four through twelve joined together to perform the “Traveler’s Blessing,” we were collectively moved by the beauty of the moment, and by a recognition of what had been lost and what was regained. 

Journeys are valuable, even if we didn’t take them by choice. We emerge from this COVID journey not just with a deeper appreciation for our old rituals, but with some new treasures that we found along the way. Our thriving buddy program, which connects more than 300 older buddies with younger buddies across all three divisions, was born in the early days of the pandemic, when Hoppers were isolated at home and looking for connections on Zoom. This program has blossomed into an avenue for mentorship and deep connections, a powerful manifestation of the possibilities of our unified campus. This is but one example of a valuable keepsake from our unplanned journey.

The Wiz

The Wiz

And as we reconnect with our old rituals, from the Senior Run-In to First Friday, from Hill Day to the Author’s Brunch, we are reminded that, as Dorothy discovered in this fall’s Middle School musical, The Wiz, “there’s no place like home.”


From Where I Stand
  • Head of School