Our Washington, DC Campus opened its doors to Founding Students for the first time on September 3rd for Orientation Day. The campus came to life as 184 students in Pre-school through 10th Grade filled our school with the joy and excitement that comes with the dawn of a new school year, and the founding of a new community. Although just a half-day, it was an exciting first glimpse at a Whittle school day for students, families, faculty, and staff.
Our first official day, Opening Day, began with a “Welcome Parade” to celebrate the grand opening of our DC campus. Faculty and staff lined the entrance to the school cheering on students as they arrived. To the tunes of popular music played by an on-site DJ, students and parents danced their way into school. Our Van Ness neighborhood came alive, buzzing with music, excitement, and cheering. Our executive leadership team was on hand for the momentous occasion, and Founder and CEO, Chris Whittle, greeted each student with a handshake, smile, and inspiring words of encouragement. Our DC Campus Head of School, Dennis Bisgaard, and Executive Chairwoman & DC Campus Vice Chancellor, Rebecca Upham, joined the celebration, greeting families with gratitude, excitement and optimism for the years ahead!
Our nearby neighbors also participated in our Opening Day festivities. Over 30 embassy dignitary representatives from China, UAE, Italy, among others, arrived on campus for the inauguration of our global school. After cheering on students as they arrived for school, our international guests joined Founder Chris Whittle and other members of our Executive Committee for breakfast and a discussion about our global vision and plans for expansion around the world.
Opening Day celebrations continued with a special assembly for Middle and Upper School students who gathered to hear words of encouragement from both Chris Whittle and Dennis Bisgaard. Four years ago, Mr. Whittle told students, he envisioned a school that put students at the center of learning. He shared his excitement of the first class of Whittle students joining him as self-determined pioneers. Head of School, Mr. Bisgaard, echoed his enthusiasm for this first cohort of students, speaking about the importance of the value of “ubuntu,” or seeing the humanity in others. As a founding class of students, Mr. Bisgaard mentioned the importance of building a school community grounded in empathy for all. Among the activities available to students following the remarks, were a digital photo booth, a craft activity, and temporary tattoo stations. After taking numerous selfies, designing personalized “leaves” for a 3D Whittle tree installation, and making new friends along the way, our Founding Students left the assembly united together as the first ever founding class of Whittle DC.
Opening Day concluded with an evening reception for Upper School families, Whittle leadership and members of our faculty. Our boarding families particularly appreciated the chance to connect with fellow Founding Families before heading home.
Our first week ended on a “sweet” note with an all-school ice cream social! Students, families, faculty, and staff gathered outside on Friday afternoon to enjoy soft serve treats, and the opportunity to meet new members of our school community.
We could not be more excited for the incredible journey ahead!