Derby Celebrates Second Annual Gathering of Thanks

On a beautiful autumn morning, this October 7, Derby Academy invited the school community to come together on the newly-restored 1784 Field for a second-annual “Gathering of Thanks.” Students, faculty, staff,  parents, and friends of Derby took some time to reflect and share their deep-rooted appreciation for all that the school community provides.

Welcoming those assembled, “I believe the fall season is a season of gratitude,” Head of School Dr. Colleen Ramsden began, “The purpose of this event, a Gathering of Thanks, is to gather as a whole school school community. We do a lot of gathering by division, we have our Morning Meetings, but this is an opportunity for us to all come together, because we are one school.” In that spirit, students were seated with their PALS, allowing for students of all ages to share in the event together. 

Joining Dr. Ramsden on the dais, Annie Peterman, Director of Community and Belonging, donned porcine features to share some wisdom from Zen Pig: The Art of Gratitude by Mark Brown (not to be confused with Derby’s own beloved author Marc Brown, P‘01), and show that grace can be found in appreciating the simplest things and little moments. 

Dr. Ramsden went on to explain the benefits of practicing gratitude. She challenged students to make a habit of it in their daily lives, offering practical demonstrations and gestures that would allow community members to share and appreciate those things that nurture the soul and bring them joy. Standing together with Ms. Peterman, Dr. Ramsden invited the student PALS, and all the gathered community members, to turn to their neighbor and express what they were grateful for, from the heart-warming – relationships with friends and colleagues, a culture of learning and inclusion, smiles and laughter – to the sublime – apple cider doughnuts on a crisp fall day. 

The assembly also provided students with the opportunity to showcase their musical talents, including a prelude performance by the Jazz Trio and, later, the Upper School Vocal Ensemble, who sang “Stand in the Light” by Jordan Smith.

Before thanking everyone for sharing together in this Gathering of Thanks, Dr. Ramsden invited parents and students to participate in a Gratitude Challenge: to spend the month of October really practicing gratitude and share with each other things they are grateful for. Resources for finding ways to consciously incorporate gratitude into your daily life, including Gratitude Tracker templates can be found in the DEN.

To all our students, faculty, families, and friends—thank you! We are truly grateful for our Derby community!