March 14, 2018


Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope this message finds you well. As we are immersed in launching our Extended Study Week and Echo Hill programs next week, I wanted to share some brief thoughts on an issue that has been heavy on my heart as an educator and as a parent.  

In recent weeks, the shooting in Florida has been on my mind, and it makes me recall a moment almost fifty years ago when Robert Kennedy was asked to speak after Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. With words that echo into today, Kennedy spoke about "the mindless menace of violence" plaguing American society, the personal loss he had experienced, and the need to seek alternative paths toward peace and non-violence. In seeing the aftermath in Parkland, Florida and the countless parallels which preceded it, I find that this moment has some relevance to today.

I share this with you as we approach several important events in the coming days:

  • Just this morning, many of our Prep students walked out of classes and onto Layhill Road, and some even to the National Mall to engage in civil discourse on behalf of school safety. I am proud of our kids and prouder of our faculty who support them in becoming conscientious, engaged citizens seeking meaningful solutions. 
  • Today, an open letter will be published in the Baltimore Sun and again on Sunday in the Washington Post signed by 133 Heads of School in the Greater DC Area. The purpose of the letter will be to urge our government to "enact specific, vigorous measures to reduce gun violence in our society, particularly in our schools." You can read the letter here.  
  • On Saturday, March 24th, it is estimated that as many as half a million people will be gathering along Pennsylvania Avenue in solidarity to support safe schools. Several Barrie parents are already planning to participate and I will be with them. While this is not an official school event, if you are interested in joining, let us know and we can walk together in community. (Please note that we do not advise that young children attend this event due to the subject matter, posters, and conversations they will likely see and overhear from the thousands of participants at the gathering.)

At Barrie, we are committed to our mission as a school to "Empower individuals to expand their intellectual abilities, develop their creative talents, and discover their passions to make a positive impact in a rapidly changing world."  To do this, we must keep our students safe so they can learn and thrive.

As the letter in the Sun and Post states, this issue need not be partisan or political: "Our school communities represent multiple political parties...on the spectrum from liberal to conservative.... Our calling is to serve and to educate children, to ensure their safety and well-being, and to help them grow into thoughtful and responsible citizens. Please let us do our work."

With thanks and appreciation for all you do on behalf of children,


Jon Kidder

Head of School



Barrie School

13500 Layhill Road • Silver Spring, MD 20906
(301) 576-2800

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