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May 26, 2023

By Molly Alpern, Assistant Director for Advancement Communications

The hustle and bustle of the last stretch of the academic year was interrupted by an opportunity to slow down, reflect, and say “thank you” this month as our School celebrated ECFS Gratitude Week! This annual celebration began in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic to unite and strengthen our community by giving thanks to everyone who helped the Ethical Culture Fieldston School provide the best educational experience possible under such difficult conditions. Today, it provides an opportunity to show gratitude for the many ways in which ECFS continues to be a strong, inclusive, and vibrant community.

“Over the last few years, we’ve learned a lot about the value of demonstrating gratitude. Brain science has shown that practicing gratitude releases two ‘feel good chemicals,’ serotonin and dopamine, which influence mood, increase motivation, and strengthen neural pathways,” says Head of School Joe Algrant. “We also know that an environment centered on gratitude can bring out the best in all of us. For all these reasons and more, we devote this week to gratitude.”

The week kicked off with a celebration of the incredible faculty and staff who work tirelessly every day to support our School, inspire our students, and teach the next generation. Students from each division shared their heartwarming messages of gratitude in a short video for Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day.

“As a parent at ECFS for 18 years, I have seen how the dedicated teachers, coaches, nurses, administrators, security staff, dining staff, and more put smiles on the faces of ECFS students every day,” says Patty Moreno-Fletcher, All School P+T Chair and Fieldston Upper Liaison. “I am so thankful for everyone who works hard to create a wonderful space where parents/guardians can feel confident that our children are engaged in learning through doing.”

The P+T also arranged a selection of treats and snacks for faculty and staff at each division to enjoy.

On Thankful Thursday Spirit Day, our campuses were full of orange pride as we celebrated everything that makes ECFS special and those who champion our School each day: our engaged parents/guardians, inspiring students, loyal donors, dedicated faculty and staff, proud alumni, and everyone who supports the mission of our School.

In a joint letter to the community, the Administrative Council wrote, “We see firsthand the impact that each member of our community has on ECFS, whether they have been a part of our School for one week or 14 years. Because of your commitment and the community you have helped build, ECFS flourishes and our students realize their potential.”

Students were encouraged to wear their ECFS gear to show their School spirit, and every corner of our campuses was filled with Eagle pride!

Gratitude Week came to a close at Founder’s Day, a time-honored tradition that connects the students of today to those who came before them and those who will follow in their footsteps by celebrating our history and looking ahead to the future. 

Students in 8th–12th Grade gathered in Adler Hall at Ethical Culture to joyfully sing the school songs and listen to music performances, hear from speakers Dr. Richard Koral, Leader of the New York Society of Ethical Culture; Joe Algrant, Head of School; and Kimberly Smith Spacek ’91, Chair of the Board of Trustees and Founder’s Day keynote speaker. Finally, the current Fieldston Student Government Co-Presidents Tess M. ’23 and Alex B. ’23 passed the torch to the newly elected co-presidents Sophie B. ’24 and Remy L. ’24 who will represent their class next year. 

“I fondly remember being in the student’s place, sitting amongst my classmates in Adler Hall and being inspired by the alumni speakers who came before me. It was truly an honor to attend Founder’s Day in a different role this year: the keynote speaker,” Spacek says. “I shared with the students how Felix Adler believed education should go beyond the transmission of knowledge and skills, and should aim to develop individuals who are capable of making a positive impact on the world. A deeply felt life of bold action is not an easy life, but it’s ethical, it’s honorable, and most importantly, it’s the Fieldston way.” These lessons — and the gratitude displayed by our community — will live on with our students even after they graduate from ECFS.

This year’s ECFS Gratitude Week may be over, but the love for our School is still going strong. Visit our Instagram (@ecfs1878) to relive the festivities on our Gratitude Week highlight or catch up with all of the end-of-year events and celebrations. Thank you for being a part of our ECFS community — we are grateful for you!