Lynnhaven School student performed at the Inaugural Juneteenth Commemoration at the University of Richmond
University of Richmond
June 21, 2022
Lynnhaven School student James McRae ‘27 performed "Lift Every Voice and Sing" at the Inaugural Juneteenth Commemoration at the University of Richmond.
On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas. He issued General Order No. 3 to inform enslaved people that they were free. This is why we celebrate Juneteenth. We honor the day all African Americans were free from the bondage of slavery.
Join Spider Athletics, Equity & Community, and Human Resources for a Juneteenth commemoration on Tuesday, June 21 at 1 p.m. in Cannon Memorial Chapel. The program will include remarks by historian Dr. Lauranett Lee, a special performance of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" by community musicians with The Music Tree, and poetry readings by University of Richmond athletes.
Visit the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement's Summer Events & Volunteer Opportunities page for additional Juneteenth events in the Richmond region.
About Lynnhaven School
Lynnhaven School is Richmond's only progressive independent high school. The school was founded in 2010 by education leader Johnathan Harris. He wanted to build a HAVEN "that accepts students for who and where they are, cared for them as individuals, worked with their hopes, embraced their dreams and stayed with them along their journey. They are located in Eastern Henrico County.
This article appeared as "Putting Their Heads Together” in the Summer 2022 issue of The National Association of Independent Schools Summer Magazine Edition.
Click HERE to be taken to the NAIS Magazine online where this article is located
After a Lynnhaven School (VA) board meeting in 2020 during which Head of School Johnathan Harris worked together with Deputy Head of School Casey Hitchcock to present and answer questions, a board member joked that they were acting a lot like co-heads of school. “And that kind of stuck with us,” Hitchcock says.
It wasn’t an out-of-left-field idea. Hitchcock was interim head when Harris, who founded the school 10 years ago, took medical leave for 9 months in 2018. And given that school life had already been upended by COVID-19 and the school was moving to a new physical location, they thought why not lean further into major change and try the co-head model. The 2021–2022 school year was their first year as co-heads.
In this edited exchange, they reflect on why and how they decided on a co-headship, the benefits, and the components necessary to make it work.
Casey Hitchcock: After that board meeting, I brought the co-head idea back up. The first thing anybody does when they’re thinking about something is research. And there was an Independent School article, “Are Two Heads Better Than One?” by Claudia Daggett, in the Spring 2020 issue, which was when we were having these conversations. So, we dug into the article.
Jonathan Harris: Some of the things in the article related to us, some didn’t. But I think COVID gave us the permission to try something different.
Hitchcock: We’re an innovative school. We like to try new things in the classroom. We like to try new ways of organizing our school day. We’re not so set on this is the right way all the time. But changing a school leadership model is a little scary. So the pandemic definitely gave us permission to do it because at that point, there was no right way to do anything.
Harris: One of the questions that came up was, what is appealing about the concept? And I think you said that head of school is an exhausting job. And what better than to have another person to share that exhaustion? All of the staff work together as a team. But I tell teachers all the time, when things go wrong, and sometimes they will, the head is going to get that phone call. It’s great to be able to go through that together.
But I think it’s important to have boundaries, too. Because even though there are two of us here, you could still have burnout. And there’s got to be a time when you do turn it off.
Hitchcock: And sometimes there is burnout because there are two people and because everything you do has to be overly communicated. Everything you do, for the most part, has to be talked through. At least that's how we approach it because we have divided responsibilities but hold joint accountability. Though we talk a lot of things out, our responsibilities are often separate. That helps me understand where my autonomy is.
Harris: Next year is going to be different for us. We have hired full-time directors of admission and development. We’re going to hire a business manager. We’ve hired a principal to do the day-to-day operations of the school. We promoted from within for an assistant principal. We were doing all of those things ourselves. Now we can lead the school according to the five-year strategic plan. We’re going to still keep this co-heads model in place because there are certain aspects of leadership that you are good at and others that I’m good at.
Hitchcock: People often ask us, “You’re a small school, so how are you affording two salaries for heads of school?” And the reality is that because we, for the past year anyway, have had to do all of the other roles, the school can support us because we’re it. We haven’t yet been able to be revenue generators as the heads of school.
Harris: As we move to the next phase of the school, it is important for us to grow the school incrementally, be intentional, and put all the structures in place that we need. Then we can effectively execute our roles, which will further legitimize the school. Right now, from the administrative standpoint, it’s Johnny can do it or Casey can do it. This co-headship model helped us dive deep into what needs to happen. We’re in a better position now to support all the folks who we’re hiring.
Hitchcock: Thinking critically about the school as a co-headship—especially a co-headship that’s coming out of a founding headship—really matters for us because it’s easy to get one-sided as a founding head and get attached to certain things. Having a co-headship allowed us to have conversations about what we keep, what we don’t keep, what’s working, what’s not working, and how we can do better.
Harris: As a founder of the school, I have to really check my ego and make sure that I’m not trying to dominate because everyone looks to me as the visionary. But a visionary shares that vision with people.
Hitchcock: Checking your ego at the door is essential with a co-headship. There’s no way around it because it will get bruised, and you will get your feelings hurt. And you have to be able to have reconciliation and come back together because, at the end of the day, we’re both still responsible.
Harris: Anyone who says, “Oh no, I don’t have an ego,” yeah, you do.
Hitchcock: A question we get a lot is, How does this work, and if I wanted to do it at my school, how could I do it?
Harris: I think the person has to really know their strengths. You have to be willing to be vulnerable. You have to be willing to trust it and try it. You’ve got to be willing to fail. You’ve got to be really humble. What do you think?
Hitchcock: You can’t go into it thinking that it’s going to solve everything and it’s going to be perfect. You can't go into it thinking that it’s going to be the great fixer of whatever is happening in your school or even in yourself. Burnout is real, and adding a co-head doesn’t necessarily eliminate that.
Harris: For co-heads to work, you need two individuals who have a very common view on education, on the approach to reach students. You can have different leadership styles. But I don’t think it’s a situation where someone is really good in certain aspects of being head of school, but they don’t quite have all the skills and the ability to be a head of school. You need two individuals who can be a head of school anywhere. It’s not a situation where there’s really just one head of school and the other person is in the supporting role.
Hitchcock: When we did our research, I found a study that was done in England in 2008. Of the eight schools studied that had a co-headship model, the successful ones had co-heads saying, “This is what we want. We want to be co-heads.” It wasn’t a top-down decision where the board was putting it in place. During the hiring process, it was the person saying, “I think a co-headship model could work here. I know that I’m going to need to take X-amount of time off,” or whatever the case may be, but it was coming from the heads of school themselves. They had more success long term because they were open and ready for the model to begin with.
Harris: I think the ability to communicate with each other can’t be overstated. We used to try to eat breakfast together at least once a week away from the school and talk about what’s happening. What are we missing? Where are our blind spots? What are our liabilities? What do we need to celebrate? What do we need to highlight? That’s important.
Hitchcock: I don’t think everyone can do this. One of the things that could be really easy to do is when you disagree—because it’s going to happen—to go coalition-build. Don’t go around to your faculty or parents and try to pull people onto your side to prove your point. Disagree with each other and get to a resolution. For your stakeholders to believe in and respect this model, you have to be united.
April 5, 202
Co-Head of School, Mrs. Casey Hitchcock was recently initiated into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest and most selective all-discipline collegiate honor society. Hitchcock was initiated at Marymount University as a doctor of education student in the Education Leadership and Organizational Innovation Program.
Hitchcock is among approximately 25,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni to be initiated into Phi Kappa Phi each year. Membership is by invitation only and requires nomination and approval by a chapter. Only the top 10 percent of seniors and 7.5 percent of juniors are eligible for membership. Graduate students in the top 10 percent of the number of candidates for graduate degrees may also qualify, as do faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction.
Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 under the leadership of undergraduate student Marcus L. Urann who had a desire to create a different kind of honor society: one that recognized excellence in all academic disciplines. Today, the Society has chapters on more than 325 campuses in the United States, its territories and the Philippines. Its mission is "To recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others."
More About Phi Kappa Phi
Since its founding, more than 1.5 million members have been initiated into Phi Kappa Phi. Some of the organization's notable members include former President Jimmy Carter, NASA astronaut Wendy Lawrence, novelist John Grisham and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley. Each year, Phi Kappa Phi awards more than $1 million to outstanding students and members through graduate and dissertation fellowships, undergraduate study abroad grants, funding for post-baccalaureate development, and grants for local, national and international literacy initiatives. For more information about Phi Kappa Phi, visit this link.
Mechanicsville, Virginia - Hanover High School
With a few competitions under their belts, the athletes on the Lynnhaven Lynx Track and Field Team have pushed their limits and exceeded their own expectations with new personal records being met.
On April 27th, the team traveled to Mechanicsville, VA and took on host school Hanover High School in addition to four other schools in the Richmond area. There were several new PRs set on the varsity squad. Junior, Omar Loiseau, regularly competes in the 100 meter dash, where he set a new personal record of 13.90 seconds. Sophomores,Tori Lortz, Yaquae Meyers, and Ellington Burnette also set new personal records in their events with Lortz running 34.94 seconds in the 200 meter dash, Meyers throwing 13 feet 8.5 inches in the shot put event, and Burnette throwing 27 feet 1 inch in shot put as well. Freshman, Joey Hitchcock, placed a personal best in the shot put event with a 16 foot throw.
In the junior varsity section, 8th grader Jaylen Hayes set a new personal best in the 1600 meter run with a time of 6:18.94.
The track and field team will compete in their next meet with Charles City High School on May 12th at 4:30pm.
University of Richmond alumni and basketball standout Nick Sherod will deliver the keynote address at Lynnhaven School’s commencement exercises on Friday, May 27, 2022.
Sherod was a three time team captain, scored over 1,400 points, and is top 5 all-time in 3 pointers made as a member of the men’s basketball team. He was a member of the 2022 Atlantic 10 Championship Basketball Team, who also advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Sherod continued his leadership roles and engagement off the court, which resulted in winning the Thomas West Gregory award, as well as the Engaged Leadership Award, which recognizes a graduating senior who demonstrates ongoing care and concern for the community, as a University of Richmond student.
Sherod earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Rhetoric and Communications and is in the last semester of graduate school at the University of Richmond and will earn a Master’s Degree in teaching. Sherod is the older brother of Lynnhaven alumni Gabriella “Gabby” Sherod ‘20.
By Mr. Israel- African Studies Teacher
African Studies II focused on society after the Civil War to the present-day with specific emphasis on the experiences of African Americans. Throughout the year, students read contemporary literature that integrated the facts, figures, and events with the experiences of people. In this way, history is told and understood through the stories of the people whose lives were transformed by a system that sees them as objects.
While learning about Reconstruction and Jim Crow, students read Crow by Barbara Wright. The inquiry unit about the Civil Rights movement was fleshed out by the reading of The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon.
The last trimester brought students into the 21st Century and to the crossroads of current events and the same struggles America has faced since Reconstruction as we work to live up to the promises of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Reading and discussing Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, provided students with the background knowledge that enables them to analyze and interpret events they see today. Because Stamped is considered to contain divisive content, students wrote an opinion essay to defend their stance on banning the book, a policy that affects young people. The exhibit the students curated as their final assessment gave students a voice to be heard by the school community as they shared what they discovered about the history of racism, the effects of racist policies, and where individuals fall on the spectrum between racists and antiracists.
By: Ms. Melendez- Dean of Academics
The seniors in the Solutions Science class are participants in the Growing Wetlands in the Classroom program through Lynnhaven River NOW, a non-profit organization whose aim is to restore waterways in Virginia Beach. Students are growing native wildflowers and other upland plants in greenhouses in the science classroom to be transplanted in late April in the Albemarle-Pamlico and Chesapeake Bay watersheds in the Green Run area of Virginia Beach. Our partnership with Lynnhaven River NOW is part of our overall goal as a school to focus on conservation and sustainability initiatives.
The curriculum for the Solutions class was developed in cooperation with Lynnhaven River Now. In the fall, students learned about and explored forests, including the woods around campus, based on iTree and Project Learning Tree. During the winter trimester, the focus was on watersheds and culminated in water testing at Bottom’s Bridge on the James River.
In the last trimester, students will learn about and investigate wetlands using Project WET. As the students in the Solutions class learn more about the plants around us and the role of plants in the health of our forests, watersheds, and wetlands, they can assume more active roles in sustainability and conservation efforts.
By: Ms. Dougherty - Model UN Sponsor
In March, Model UN elective students, Maegan Pickral, Joey Hitchcock, Amaya Christian, Abigayle Strawsnyder, Kyle Kees, Tori Lortz, Viola Langlie, and Theodore Magnusdal participated in GSMUN XXIV, Maggie Walker’s Model UN virtual competition. Our Lynx were split into 2 different committees: The National Assembly of Chad and the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development.
Our delegates tackled poverty, womens’ equality, blockchain technology, and using STEM to combat food insecurity. While these topics have proven to baffle leaders around the world, our delegates rose to the challenge. Model UN is all about curiosity and connection, 2 skills which a Lynnhaven student has practiced daily. During the committees, our delegates practiced communicating their positions and were able to devise solutions to create a more productive and cohesive global community.
Spring sports are currently underway at Lynnhaven School and the coaches, Ms. Kidd and Mr. Imbriani, have been training the student athletes for success. The junior varsity and varsity track athletes practice Monday through Friday, rain or shine, for a series of running and field events.
The 100 and 200 meter dash events are two events sprinters enjoy, while the 1600 meter run is a favorite for long distance athletes. Throwers have been able to flex their muscle in the shot put event. Ms. Kidd commented on the diversity of track and field stating, “the sport offers such a vast variety of events that all students, regardless of their athletic ability could find something they enjoy”. They compete against both private and public schools across the state of Virginia, with some meets being relatively small with five to seven competing teams, while other meets have had as many as 28 teams competing at once. These competitions have been a great experience for students who have not previously participated in a school sanctioned sport, while some of the seasoned athletes have been able to reawaken their competitive spirit.
At 9:00 AM on March 26th Lynnhaven School competed in one of their largest track meets to date at Charles City High School’s annual invitational, located in Charles City, VA. It was only their second meet of the season, so nerves were present but their drive and determination allowed them to push through, many of them beating their personal record. When asked what they liked about track and field, Faith, class of 2024, said, “track is fun because you get to hang out with your friends while improving your athletic skills”.
Lynnhaven will compete in their next meet on Thursday April 7th at St. Christopher’s School located in Richmond, VA at 4:00 PM.