News from the Upper School

Happy Summer!
Happy Summer!
Happy Summer!

Dear Upper School Parents,

Students had fun closing the year with food, spirited competition, water battles, and a surprise (and hilarious) inflatable costume race put on by teachers. Field Night was the perfect way to unwind after A.P. and SDS exams. The dodgeball games were intense (a couple of teachers took shots to the face while helping referee the games), and the visit from the snow cone truck capped off the evening! The photo above and additional images shared at the end of this message paint a great picture of the evening. Ms. Sorrenti shared the following results with students:

Tie for 3rd place: 9th and 11th grade

2nd place: 10th grade

1st place: 12th grade - This group has taken first place each year since entering Upper School!

Before we look ahead to a week of celebrations dedicated to our Class of 2024, I want to share a few faculty updates.  

Susan Owens and Bobbie Jean Shepard will leave SDS at the close of this year. Both have been stalwarts in the Upper School and will be greatly missed by students and faculty alike. Susan is retiring after a successful 24-year career of teaching anything and everything math-related. Susan started the Financial Algebra Program at SDS, took Interact to new heights, and was a trusted teacher and advisor to countless students. Bobbie Jean has been pushing students to reach their full potential in writing and reasoning for the past seven years while teaching AP Language and English 11. Bobbie Jean and her husband Wells are moving closer to family. She will teach English at West-Oak Middle School in Westminster. Little do her future students know how lucky they are! Both women made a tremendous difference in my child's life - academically and otherwise, and I'm confident many of you would say the same. Susan and Bobbie Jean are incredibly talented people with huge hearts and tremendous work ethics. They are master educators who have made lasting impacts and will leave indelible footprints — wishing you every blessing now and always, Susan and Bobbie Jean!

New Faces

  • Susan SmithUpper School English. Ms. Smith has been teaching English at Union County High School since 2018. Ms. Smith graduated Magna Cum Laude from Converse University with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Secondary Education. Susan fondly remembers her time in independent schools. She is looking forward to positively impacting students in a way that encourages them to be critical thinkers and positively impact the world around them.

Old Faces, New Spaces

  • Jolie Joseph: Upper School Math. Ms. Joseph was an upper school math teacher at SDS from 2005-2012 before moving to Christ Church Episcopal School. She returns to SDS with her daughter, Fleur, who will join the freshman class in the fall. Ms. Joseph holds an Honors B.S. from McMaster University in Math, with an Economics minor, an Honors Bachelor of Education from the University of Western Ontario, and a designation as a Specialist in Upper Math Education from the University of Toronto. Jolie looks forward to being a Griffin again and said she feels she is returning home.
  • Jillian Sorrenti: Upper School VISTAS & Assistant Head of Upper School for Student Life 
  • Amanda McGrath: Upper School History & Assistant Head of Upper School for Faculty Life
  • Dave Skeen: Head of School & Interim Upper School Head

As we approach the close of the 2023-2024 school year, Tim and I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for your unwavering support and partnership over the last two years. Your faith in us, the faculty, and our program has been invaluable. It is widely known that collaboration between school and home is the backbone of a successful academic program, but pulling that partnership off is easier said than done. It takes trust, patience, and open and honest communication, and you gave those things and more to ensure we were able to fully support children and promote learning. We appreciate your commitment to staying the course and helping us build a community and culture where students feel supported, are known, and can thrive. 

Tim will return to the classroom full-time, adding a very popular AP Psychology course to his list of classes. I am moving to District 5, where I will teach math at Abner Creek Middle and will have time to be a loud and present fan for Wren and the Lady Rebels softball team and continue to watch Sam transition into adulthood, forging his path on solid footing built by years as a Griffin.

As I said in a previous communication, Ashli and I are so grateful to have been a part of this community for the last thirteen years. Sam and Wren are thriving because of the foundations built within the school's walls, and I could not have asked for a better place to work and grow professionally. To everyone who has been a part of our journey, we thank you! 

Warmest regards,


Below is the final calendar rundown of the year. Class of 2024, here's to you!!!

  • Tuesday, May 21—Band Awards Night. The start time is 5:00 in Dent. Dave Skeen will meet with parents in the band room at 5:00 while students eat dinner. Awards will begin at 5:30 in the gallery.
  • Wednesday, May 22, is Prom Night. The time is 7:00 - 10:00, and students must arrive no later than 7:45. 
  • Graduation rehearsal is at 11:00 am on Thursday, May 23. Seniors should report to the chorus room at the end of the Dent hallway. There is an alumni luncheon directly after. 
  • Thursday, May 23, Upper School Awards Night begins at 5:30 in Stone Gym. This event is required for juniors and seniors.
  • Graduation begins at 9:00 am on Friday, May 24, in the Senior Courtyard. Seniors should report to the chorus room at 7:50 am Friday morning.




College Counseling Corner

Week of May 13

Attention Juniors - who are almost SENIORS!

Please remember that we have two opportunities for you to attend College Boot Camp. They will be the same, so you do not have to attend both. Please email us and let us know which one you plan to attend.

Session 1: May 29th - 31st from 9 AM until 12 PM in the Parents' Community Seminar Room

Session 2: August 12th - 13th from 9 AM until 12 PM in the Parents' Community Seminar Room




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