Grateful for the WES Community

This Thanksgiving will certainly be different than previous years. This will be the first that Sandy, the boys, and I will be by ourselves. Another difference is that we will not be eating turkey. We took an idea from Early Childhood Counselor Debbie Weinberger and decided to give everyone in the family a choice of what they would like to eat on Thanksgiving. (As the chef, I probably should have thought this one out more.) But the most significant difference this year is that we will be missing some beloved faces from around our table. So yes, this holiday will certainly be different for many of us, but that does not take away from all that we should be thankful for.

Personally, I am thankful for the WES community – my colleagues, our students, and our families. 

Thank you to our teachers for learning new apps and figuring out how to position your computer just right so our at-home learners can see everyone. You bravely enter the unknown week after week, always finding ways to overcome the many obstacles this year has thrown at us. 

Thank you to our facilities team, who move tables and chairs every day so our students can eat lunch outside. You also spend countless hours sanitizing surfaces so our Dragons can move safely through our few remaining shared spaces. 

Thank you to the rest of our staff for perfecting the art of Zoom socials and parent workshops, and finding new ways to ensure we stay connected as a community. 

Thank you to our students for filling our classrooms and computer screens every day with your joy and enthusiasm. You give us the strength to do our work.

Thank you to our parents for assisting with Zoom log-ins, locating supplies, and modeling the resilience, grace, and courage it takes to endure the constantly changing school year. 

Thank you to all of our community for coming together to help those who are vulnerable right now through our Warmth and Canned Food Drives. 

Not everyone gets to show up to their job everyday with excitement and a smile – I am fortunate to be in that position. And that is thanks to all of you. 

Danny Vogelman

Head of School

Submit Your Work to WES’s Holiday Music Series

WES Dragons, you’re invited to the…..

The 12 Nights of Christmas 

Family Concert Series at WES

The 12 Nights of Christmas is a community-wide event to celebrate the music of the holidays. Starting the first week of December, we will share featured music performances by our students, families, and faculty each night as we approach the festive season. These performances will be on the WES website and social media. It is easy and convenient to participate. 

We are looking for video performances of singers and/or instrumentalists to perform a favorite holiday song and send it to us by Monday, December 7.  Everyone in the WES community is invited to send a performance video. This includes alumni and WES family group/solo performances. If you are interested, please read below for detailed instructions.   

YES, it’s that EASY! 

  • Choose any appropriate Christmas or holiday song.  Yes, even Jingle Bells.
  • Practice…. Or not 🙂 and follow the video instructions for recording the performance.
  • Record your song and sit back and watch our celebration each night as we compile a few video performances together and share with the community.


Suggestions on ways to record and send your performance video.

  •  THE EASIEST WAY to record and send your performance!
    • Google Submit – This is the easiest way to join in the fun and our preferred option! Just click on our Screencastify submit button and record your video.  Review the video for quality. If you are happy with the performance, hit the submit button, and you’re done! If you are not happy with the quality or performance select retake and try again. Once you hit the submit button, the video is automatically uploaded to me for approval and will be adding to our program. This works on most devices, including both apple and android devices.

    • Use your own video recording method and send video to our GOOGLE DRIVE.

Video suggestions to make a better video 

  • The most important suggestion is to KEEP IT SIMPLE and FUN! 
  • Performance length: Video performances should be 30 seconds to 4 minutes in length. (Please email Mr. Valenzia if you would like to go outside of these times.)
  • Music: Play the music track on a second device and sing along.  
  • Karaoke, live instrument, or backing tracks are preferred for your performance. Youtube is a great resource. You can also email Mr. Valenzia if you can’t find a backing track.  
  • Lighting: Make sure there are lights in front of you so we can clearly see your face(s).  Tree and other decoration lights in the video are welcome.
  • Performance attire: Lots of smiles and fun attire are recommended but not required. 
  • Place: choose a simple or festive place (room) for your performance.  (Decorations are not required.)

Please understand that ALL submissions will grant Washington Episcopal School permission to share these videos through our 12 Nights of Christmas project and remain visible throughout the holidays.  

Supporting Our Children Through Difficult Feelings

Our Dragons are back in school, which feels familiar, but things are also very different. Constant changes over the last nine months have created uncertainty and anxiety in both children and adults. As parents, we are the “Front Line” workers (often with no backup) who support our children when they experience challenges, and I know for many families this situation continues to be stressful and at times overwhelming.

On Tuesday evening, our counseling team led a parent workshop offering tips on how parents can support their children through the pandemic – this workshop is a continuation from the series of workshops they facilitated in the spring. I found the conversation very helpful, so I wanted to share some of what they discussed.

One of the most impactful messages that I took away from Tuesday’s workshop was understanding the need to focus on those things within our control and to let go of those things outside of our control. We can control our own attitudes, how we follow CDC recommendations, and how we demonstrate kindness and empathy to ourselves and others. We cannot control how long this pandemic will last or other people’s attitudes and actions towards it. By focusing on those things under our control we feel more empowered which triggers positive emotions.  And when we feel empowered and positive, we are more equipped to support others.

The second message that I took away was that this situation is extremely challenging. Our children will struggle through it, and that is okay.  It is difficult to watch our children experience conflict, but we do not always have to swoop in and solve the problem. Uncomfortable feelings are a part of pandemic life. We can accept and cope with those feelings. With love and a sense of safety, children will learn and grow from this experience. 

I want to thank our team for facilitating this important conversation and thank all of those who were able to join us. Please know that our community is here to support you and your children through these unprecedented times. Please reach out if there is anything we can do to help as we all navigate this experience  together. 

Danny Vogelman

Head of School


Helping WES Graduates Become Kind, Confident, and Prepared

I began today with a small and physically distanced outdoor information session for prospective families. One of our Grade 8 students attended the first part to share her experiences as a WES student and to answer questions. She was poised, eloquent, and engaging. As I watched her speak, I thought about how she embodied our mission to enable students to become “kind, confident, and prepared.”

She spoke freely about many of our programs and the highlights of her WES career. She shared about how much she enjoys her current physics class and how the Grade 4 Biography Tea was her most memorable elementary experience. She discussed her leading role in the Grade 6 musical, as well as her current positions with the Student Government Association, school magazine, and yearbook. She talked about the great relationships she built across grade levels through the Reading Buddies and Chapel Pals programs. Perhaps most importantly, she spoke of her deep appreciation for our faculty and her fellow Dragons. 

She also candidly discussed our outplacement process and how she is getting ready to transition to life outside of WES. As this student begins searching for her next opportunity, two excellent schools are at the top of her list. Because of the opportunities she has had at WES, she feels more than ready for the next step of her educational career. 

Our current pandemic has highlighted that life can sometimes be completely unpredictable. But the one thing that is predictable is that our students continue to impress. And when their time comes to transition to the next phase in their lives, they are prepared to stride confidently into the world, delight in it, and contribute to it.

Danny Vogelman

Head of School