PDS First Day: September 3, 2019
PDS First Day: September 3, 2019

What a great first day of school! Students and faculty arrived on campus full of energy and excitement. Read about special moments from their first day below and enjoy these photo highlights!

While the morning of the first day of school often centers around catching up with friends, settling into new routines and meeting new classmates, Trixie Sabundayo, Head of the Upper School, took a few moments at the Upper School Assembly to remind students about their role within the Princeton Day School community. She discussed watching a documentary on legendary American novelist, essayist, editor and teacher Toni Morrison, and the profound effect this had on her approach to the new school year. Toni Morrison asked how she could engage meaningfully within a community, part of which is understanding that she couldn't be everything to everyone and be everywhere at one time. Instead, she would ask herself, "What can I do from where I am?" Ms. Sabundayo challenged the students to ask themselves this question now, and as the year progresses. "And whether you are a new student or a lifer, an athlete or an artist or both, it is important to ask yourself how you can participate meaningfully, contribute in an impactful way and seize the many opportunities we have here at PDS from where you are."

Across the Lower School, families walked students to their classrooms, greeting each other and the teachers. New Head of Lower School Sandy Wang warmly welcomed all families and was joined by the School mascot, Paws, who was enthusiastically embraced by children of all ages. From PreK through Fourth Grade, children explored new spaces and routines with their teachers, stocked their lockers and worked together in all kinds of community-building activities. Initial shyness quickly shifted to engagement and making connections with each other and the faculty.

During the Middle School opening assembly, an exercise in crossing your arms, and then crossing them the opposite way, became an opportunity to reflect on how to handle being uncomfortable, whether in yourself or when you see someone else who may feel uncomfortable. One eighth grader offered this reflection, "There's a quote in the hallway here, 'When one pretends the entire body revolts.' This exercise, for me, was about doing what feels comfortable for you and not what others may be comfortable with." Another offered, "You've got to try new things and you have to find your comfort zone." A teacher suggested another quote, which he'd heard at a professional development conference this summer: " 'Everything is hard until it is easy.' Keep trying." The Middle School assembly ended with a brief video of young people reflecting on "What is dignity to you?" Head of Middle School Renée Price advised, "Share your acts of dignity. Contribute to a culture of dignity. It helps you learn better, be happier and be well!"

Head of School Paul Stellato also focused on the importance of community at PDS on this first day together. "This is a community of immense freedom and independence, and it operates well because we have a profound sense of respect among each other. It is the individual who sees his or her role in community who makes us the strongest," he stated at the Upper School opening assembly. Mr. Stellato also cautioned against allowing anything disrespectful to creep into our community, reminding the group that PDS is known as a place where each student is able to embark on their respective pursuits while continually valuing all that their classmates offer as well. "When something that is cruel, disrespectful or unkind is unleashed in small or large conversations, it poisons the well of this school community." He closed by challenging the students to "think about the ways in which you can ensure the health of this institution, the health of this Upper School community, by doing the right thing, the good thing, the noble thing, the respectful thing. You have proved again and again that you can do so."

It was a joy to see the students bringing so much life and energy to school today, and the faculty and staff have poured themselves into making this the best year yet. We cannot wait to see all the wonderful things that the 2019-2020 school year will bring for PDS!

For more first day photos, check out the Flickr album here!