Highlights of Virtual Spring Family Weekend

EHS parents and guardians came together over the weekend for the traditional Spring Family Weekend and virtual grade-level meetings, discussions with advisors and faculty, and conversations with experts on teenagers and the college admissions process. 

A big highlight of the weekend was “Understanding the Teenage Brain,” a conversation with two neuroscientists from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Mayumi Prins, a pediatric neurologist, discussed the development of the brain through the teenage years and how sleep, exercise, and stimulating learning experiences can contribute to its development. She noted that researchers are increasingly focusing on the “brain-gut connection” and nutrition’s role in the brain’s health and regulating mood. “It turns out that a lot of bacteria in your gut do really important things that communicate back to your brain,” she said.

Dr. Meeryo Choe, associate director for the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT program, spoke about the growing awareness of concussions in youth sports and prevention efforts. She noted the 17 symptoms that can be associated with concussions, and the research that led to the discovery that very few involve the loss of consciousness. “This is really different from how we thought in the past,” she said. “Unless athletes lost consciousness, they just went right back on the field.”

In another session, Davidson College Admissions Director Chris Gruber spoke of the evolving landscape for college applicants in terms of on-campus visits, standardized testing, and application review. He told families that colleges will begin to open up campuses for visits but urged them to take advantage of the many new ways to engage virtually. 

Gruber also indicated that many of the schools that did not require applicants this year to take an SAT or ACT test are likely to extend their test-optional approach for the next several years. Some may make that move permanent. At Davidson, he said, test scores have never been part of the formal rubric for evaluating candidates, but this year, they fell out of conversations about candidates altogether. “And they went away with ease, which is something we were really, really pleased about. It was liberating.”

Head of School Charley Stillwell hosted a gathering of parents to discuss the school’s plans and priorities, including the upcoming vaccination opportunity for students 16 years and up, Commencement plans, and the debut of the long-awaited new daily and weekly schedule in the fall. The schedule, Stillwell said, will provide new opportunities for faculty-student interaction as well as dedicated time to integrate Washington learning experiences into the daily curriculum.

“We’re really excited that right when we need to get back to emphasizing community and the resources of Washington, this new schedule that we spent over a year developing will be ready to go,” he said.

We would like to thank all parents and guardians who joined these gatherings and others. If you weren’t able to attend an event, please know that recordings of all the Family Weekend events are available on the Resources section of the parent portal on the Virtual Meetings page.