Reflecting with Mr. Thomas on his Final First Days of School


FHS Students Return For A New School Year

By Abi Baker, Editor in Chief

The first day of school was a refreshing return for many students who hadn’t seen each other in months, and for others, in almost a full year. I interviewed Headmaster John Thomas on the smooth return to full in-person school, Homecoming preparations, and establishing new norms on campus.


In his final year, Mr. Thomas is cherishing the community which he not only helped build but helped thrive throughout his time as headmaster. He hopes to maintain the relationships he’s built over the years with parents and students, as well as the incredible faculty. Once he is gone, Mr. Thomas said he wants to “look back and feel really good about where we are as a school family.”


Part of that is shepherding the school through the transition back to a more traditional year.  The gradual return to traditions such as the Lifer Ceremony and Homecoming festivities have all been possible due to the success of minimal covid cases in the Upper school. There was a mellowed-down version of the Lifer Ceremony, which usually takes place during the All School Gathering. Instead, similar to last year, the ceremony was intimate and included only the lifers, their parents, and few faculty. This tradition continues to be a major part of Flint Hill’s history; and as Mr. Thomas puts it, “the light is on for every student in this school; it represents all of us.”  Also, the Flint Hill vs. Paul VI football game was a true test as to whether our community could survive a crowded and majority unmasked event. There was not a spike in positive cases following the game, which bodes well for future events.


One of those important events is this year’s Homecoming.  Students are gearing up for Homecoming, which Mr. Thomas said is a “priority” on each campus. While certain aspects like the Bonfire will remain true to tradition, the school is remaining cautious of the lower schoolers, who as of now are unable to be vaccinated. 


The topic of the school’s culture arose when I questioned Mr. Thomas on what he hopes to accomplish in his final year. Unfortunately, during last school year, there was a lack of initiative in creating programming and policies to confront the issues which arose during the 2019 school year in regards to harassment and the overall culture of Flint Hill.  “There is a significant need to make this school what we all want it to be, which is a very respectable, warm, and welcoming place,” said Mr. Thomas. 


Mr. Thomas ensured that the results of the climate survey, which students took in the spring of last year, were taken into account, and, as a result, he has been meeting with Ms. Burton on ways to move forward. The data provided through the climate survey, Mr. Thomas said, contained “too many upsetting things.”  He wants to see progress extensive enough that “our alumni will see we have taken this very seriously.” As of now, the consensus is that there needs to be training among faculty and students, to set a precedent for what the school will tolerate.


A new headmaster is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.  About this, Mr. Thomas said that “they are in for a wonderful experience.” The headmaster will enter a school that is already headed in a “strong entrepreneurial direction,” and Mr. Thomas’ advice to them is, “just keep innovating.”