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May 19, 2022

By Molly Alpern, Assistant Director for Advancement Communications

With school spirit, orange pride, lots of smiles, and an outpouring of support, the 2nd Annual ECFS Gratitude Week was a success! This week-long celebration focuses on gratitude for the School and the many people who make it an exceptional place for students to learn, grow, and thrive. Originally, Gratitude Week was created as a way to foster connection and share appreciation for the community-wide efforts to support students during a year of hyflex learning. The enthusiastic response to the celebration in 2021 cemented its place as a new tradition at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.

Gratitude Week comes as the School enters the last stretch of the academic year. The last months before Summer Recess are often filled with both stress and celebration as students present final projects, faculty members wrap up lesson plans, and the ECFS community recognizes students with Commencement and moving up ceremonies. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the end of school, Gratitude Week offers students, faculty, staff, and parents/guardians the opportunity to reflect on what makes ECFS unique.

This year, the week kicked off on Tuesday 5/3 with Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day. The dedication and compassion of each and every person who works at ECFS ensure that students feel supported, the ECFS community stays engaged, both campuses remain safe, and the School continues to provide a world-class progressive education.

Barista stations on campus welcomed faculty and staff with specialty drinks and treats provided by the P+T.

With a coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in hand, faculty and staff enjoyed a special video featuring students expressing their gratitude.

The next day was Spirit Day, and both campuses lit up with orange pride, despite rainy weather and cloudy skies. Students, faculty, and staff were invited to wear their ECFS gear on campus, while community members far and wide shared their school spirit on social media.

On the Fieldston campus, ECFS swag was spotted all around School and at Ethical Culture, a very special guest made an appearance at pick up to the delight of students.

Eagles Give Back! Giving Day — the third day of Gratitude Week — focused on rallying the ECFS community to make a gift in support of the Orange Fund. The Orange Fund supports ECFS’s progressive education and programming while also enabling the School to offer millions of dollars of financial aid each year. Kyle Wilkie-Glass, Interim Head of School, and the Eagle encouraged the ECFS community to show their gratitude by making a gift in support of the School.

Faculty, staff, students, and parents/guardians thanked donors live from the Quad on the Gratitude Livestream as gifts came in. By the end of the day, more than $438,000 had been raised, including $200,000 in matching gifts designated for financial aid.

To close out Gratitude Week, students from Fieldston Upper gathered on the Ethical Culture campus for Founder’s Day. This time-honored tradition recognizes the history that past, present, and future ECFS students share. By reflecting on the vision of the School’s founder, Felix Adler, students can place themselves within the long and storied history of the School. Founder’s Day included performances from musical and choral ensembles; remarks from Interim Head of School Kyle Wilkie Glass, Ethical Culture Society Leader Nori Rost, and ECFS alumni Laura Silber ’79; and the transition between the outgoing and incoming Fieldston Student Government Co-Presidents.

Founder’s Day is also an important day for the senior class, as it marks the beginning of the festivities and celebrations that culminate in Commencement. The Class of 2022 entered Adler Hall one by one to applause from their peers, classmates, and teachers — a preview of how they will walk across the stage just a few short weeks later as they graduate.

While Gratitude Week may have originally been a celebration of how the community went above and beyond to support students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that gratitude is always woven throughout day-to-day life at ECFS.