Christopher Wells ’11

Dear Class of 2011 and all Hyde Alumni,

Chris Wells

I write this note with sorrow for the recent loss of Christopher Wells, a member of Hyde-Woodstock’s Class of 2011.  As a community, we send our support and sincerest condolences to his mother and father and sister.

As many of you have already noted in messages to me and each other, Chris’ passing is tragic and heart wrenching.  He was taken too soon.  I know that Chris’ time at Hyde was fleeting – arriving in the fall of 2010 and leaving in late May 2011.  When a group of students and faculty gathered this evening to remember Chris, we recalled the varied components of his spirit: his witty intelligence, his passionate and lyrical voice and musicality, and his subtle and at times rather dry humor.   I specifically recall his morning meeting rendition of a Pearl Jam song (the title painfully escaped me now) – it was the first time he came alive and expressed himself in front of the community.  It was a moment of pure expression and he allowed himself a proud smile.  Chris connected to others selectively and at his own pace.  He offered bits of himself though the spirit that could be seen most simply in his smile.  I will miss that smile.  It aches to think of the loss so many who loved him are feeling.  I like many others who knew him, will miss him a great deal.

I hope you all stay safe, healthy, and connected as you make your way forward.

All the best,

John Rigney

Assistant Head of School

Summer Sessions 2012: Update from the Woodstock Campus

City Lights group on the ropes course

Hello all,
It seems hard to believe we’ve finished our third week and already are two days into week four. This past weekend we wrapped up Community Service, a second offering of City Lights, and Outdoor Adventures.  Overall student attitudes and effort have been exceptional with students demonstrating wonderful learning attitudes which offer them a glimpse of their best.

This week, we continued to work on our curiosity, forming strong bonds between faculty and students, and trying out new activities. Our week was also filled with plenty of action and reflection.

For Week #3 Activities, students divided up and were off on their various adventures.

Community Service began with back-to-back morning trips spent at Camp Quinebaug, “a camp for all reasons” in Killingly, CT.  Hyde students prepared and led activities for campers of all age groups.  Tuesday afternoon’s trip to Misquamicut State Beach in Rhode Island combined beach clean-up with the opportunity to relax by the ocean.  Thursday and Friday were jam-packed days, as students volunteered their time at a local animal rescue in Leicester, MA, the East Haven food bank, the Greater Boston food bank, and at the home of Terry Walsh (a long-time Hyde faculty member who is still recovering post-op from shoulder surgery).  In particular, students put in stand-out efforts at food banks, sorting over 3000 pounds of frozen meat in East Haven, and packing 4 pallets worth of dry-goods filled boxes in Boston.

City Lights spent the week exploring Boston, New York, Newport, and Woodstock.  After learning to communicate with each other on the ropes course on Monday, they worked together well in the cities and maintained good spirits despite high temperatures. Highlights included visiting the New England Aquarium in Boston, seeing “Blue Man Group”, touring a local dairy farm, going up to the top of Rockefeller Center in New York for some stellar views of the city, and enjoying a group dinner out in Newport on Friday.

Outdoor Adventure saw four faculty and fourteen students head to northwest Maine for a week of outdoor activities. Upon their arrival at the Hyde Wilderness School in Eustis, ME, they were greeted with rain. After a brief stint in the lodge, the rain stopped and they headed out to set up tents before sundown.  Early on Monday morning, they headed to the trail and climbed Cranberry Mountain which is part of the State of Maine Bigelow Wilderness Preserve. It was a long, tough hike and the group persevered to the top of the 3000+ foot peak. Tuesday and Thursday brought them canoeing on Flagstaff Lake and mountain biking at the Sugarloaf Mountain Outdoor Center. Wednesday was the hit of the week as they headed out to white water raft the upper section of the Kennebec River. With “Northern Outdoors” as the guide, they hit the class three and four rapids with enthusiasm and excitement. On Friday, they paused on the journey back to Connecticut in Ogunquit, ME to go on a sunset fishing trip aboard the Bunny Clark. The group reeled in mackerel, cod, and cusk and enjoyed a beautiful evening on the water. The week was a terrific summer getaway and the kids were great and embraced each new activity. We can’t wait to do it again next year!

We concluded the weekend with a trip to Farmington River on Saturday to go river tubing.  It was be an all-day opportunity to beat the heat.  It was a great success and well-earned fun day for all who went.  Faculty, staff, and students look forward to your arrival at the end of the week, and we will be preparing this week by working hard on the Performing Arts Show.  See you soon!

Wes Jenkins
Assistant Director, Hyde Woodstock Summer Sessions


John Rigney
Director, Hyde Woodstock Summer Sessions


See photos from Bath and Woodstock Summer Sessions programs HERE!

Summer Sessions 2012: John Rigney on Inspiration in All Shapes & Sizes

SS Blog #3: July 8, 2012

Inspiration in all Shapes & Sizes

When I was in my early 20s I swore I’d never run a marathon.  I recall friends of mine who were into running and were encouraging me to go the distance.  I thought, “Why on earth would I punish myself like that?”  I saw friend after friend go run 26.2.  Then I saw Kirsten, my girlfriend (now my wife) run one.  I watched her run it in LA.  Wow.  I was blown away.  Not just by her planning, training, preparations, drive, and actual running of it.  I was blown away by those who ran it with her.  Every age, shape, size, height, race, etc. was out there.  I saw people running in costumes.  I saw people running it backwards.  I saw people pushing themselves like I’d never had the courage to do.  That was when I started thinking…

Now, at 40 years old, I’ve run a couple marathons, a bunch of halfs, and even competed in an ultra-race (another story altogether!).  What I’ve realized through all of this is that inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes.  It also comes in all arenas – physical, emotional, intellectual, and more!

I recently asked the 2012 Summer Sessions community who inspired them and why during our first week.  Here are some of their comments:

“I was inspired by the sense of family on our Habitat for Humanity trip…”

“I was inspired by the honesty in our new Discovery Group…”

“Hannah inspired me to constantly rethink how I view people…”

“I was inspired by Sean’s effort in the timed mile…”

“Liz, you inspired me with your energy and enthusiasm and how you rev people up!”

“I was inspired by Danny’s maturity – it is far beyond his years.”

I am continually inspired by students, faculty, and parents in this job.  Their courage and positive attitudes lift up the community and help us all work towards our best.

Have a great week!



See photos from Hyde’s Summer Sessions HERE.

Summer Sessions Blog: John Rigney on the Timed Mile

 Summer Sessions Blog #2: July 3rd, 2012

Here at Hyde we have a time-honored tradition of running the timed mile within the first few days of any program.  For some in the community this is an opportunity to test themselves and push through a barrier they are somewhat familiar with.  For others it is their first taste of “that voice” – the one that says, “It’s okay to quit…” or “Just slow down.”  Either way the timed mile can create a defining moment where each runner gains a more intimate knowledge of one’s self.

While it is an individual challenge, it is also a community builder.  Faculty and students cheer each other on from different spots on the 400 meter track – calling your name, telling you to push on, ignore the pain and ignore the voice.  As you swing by the start and finish line, your times are called out – which can be both wonderful one lap and debilitating the next.  Like many of the activities we ask students, interns, and faculty to do, the timed mile is one that creates a level playing field.  We only ask that each of person does their best.  My best is different from Samri’s best and her best is different from Nick’s best.

During the debrief students and faculty commented on their own effort and what they saw from others.   Shout-outs went to those who clearly pushed themselves regardless of time.  Some students found their voice and shared their pride and wonderment on what this activity offered.  Others wrote about the timed mile later when reflecting on the week’s activities.

  • “I’ve never run a mile and I ran five minutes faster than I thought.”
  • “It made me feel really good to know that I can do things I didn’t think I could do.”
  • “My highlight is the timed mile I ran in 10:30 seconds.  I’ve never run a mile before and I tried my hardest and did way better than I thought I could.”
  • “I have always feared running and I did not like the idea of the timed mile at all.  But I tried my best and finished the mile in 8:32 seconds.”

Ultimately the timed mile is a mirror which allows us a glimpse of our best – a glimpse of our strength, and conversely, our weakness.  But looking at one’s reflection provides the opportunity to grow, to see what we might be, even if for a few fleeting moments.

Get out for a run!

John (6:29)

Photos from last week’s day hike up Mount Monadnock:

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See photos from Hyde’s Summer Sessions programs HERE.

Summer Sessions 2012: John Rigney on The Chance to Succeed

Yesterday morning I read a Newsweek article by David McCullough about the graduation speech he recently gave in which he told the high school Class of 2012 that they just weren’t that special.   As a teacher and father of four children McCullough spoke to them from a place of concern and wisdom.  To his surprise, a video of his speech went viral and he started receiving hundreds of emails.  The majority of the feedback was in support and like me felt that he was challenging these new graduates to stake their claim.  He, in fact, nailed the issue on the head.  Too often today kids are given accolades they don’t earn because we want them to be included or we are afraid they won’t feel good about themselves.  They are propped up and let off the hook.  If we believe what McCullough is saying about vapid achievement and overcompensating parents and educators, we run the risk of raising individuals who lack real self-worth because they don’t know the meaning of work, the value of a dollar, or the ability to think for themselves.   What is it then that will give today’s youth a sense of self, purpose, and uniqueness?  Where do they develop confidence and gain self-knowledge? My answer: hard work and grit is the place to start.

With Hyde’s Summer Sessions opening day behind us I am struck by this question as being one of the central tenets of our program.  As an educator I know that students long for a sense of self but only when it is truly earned through hard work and personal dedication.  Defining moments – some good and some difficult – create opportunities for all of us to learn who we are and what makes us tick.  This summer we’ve framed our program around three goals which speak to creating defining moments:

  • Self-Discovery through Challenge
  • Earned Confidence
  • Good Clean Fun!

I connect with McCullough in so many ways: as someone who stumbled upon being an educator, as a teacher who has had to learn the ropes over the years (and not always with raving success), and as a father of four (although mine are still young).   I love working with teenagers and their families because like McCullough, I “take unceasing delight in kids.”  They are curious, moody, adventuresome, dedicated, ridiculous, hardworking, and hilarious.  And like McCullough, I know each student I work with is special in and of him or herself and are the most special to their parents just as my four children mean the world to me.  But, lest we fail them in our undying love, let’s help each child earn their confidence and understand themselves through a rigorous process of personal development.  By setting high expectations and setting our collective sites on our best, I believe we help create those defining moments for ourselves and those students we serve.

So here’s to a great summer.



See photos from Hyde’s Summer Sessions programs HERE.