During our 50th Anniversary, we will be sharing photos of the people, places and activities that make Tandem so special. Check out the 50 Fridays posts on Facebook and Instagram each Friday or see the stories below.
Just like the folks at UVA's Blandy Experimental Farm share in this WVTF interview, the autumn wait is on at Tandem for our beloved (well, loved and sometimes hated) gingko tree to turn golden, then drop its unique leaves. All of which happens over the course of just a few days. We're watching and waiting for this brief but breathtaking splendor to occur yet again. In the meantime, there is never a straight path on the sidewalk if you want to avoid the smelly 'fruit.' Any alums out there who remember scraping gingko berries off the sidewalk?
This 50th Friday we are celebrating last week's 50th Anniversary Weekend. While there are more exciting things planned to help us celebrate throughout the year, last weekend's online reconnections (and on-campus student celebration) were wonderful - like a big wave of love, laughter and gratitude washing over us. THANK YOU to everyone who contributed in any way, and if you just weren't able to join any of the gatherings, you may be able to experience some of the good Tandem vibes by checking out recordings of some of the events - available on our 50th anniversary webpage. You can listen in to John Howard and Whitney Thompson talking about the school, watch a wonderful video message from former Head of School Rosalyn Berne, check out the Let Your Life Speak alumni panel, and listen to great alumni music in the video concert.
We are very excited about our 50th Anniversary Celebration next weekend, October 9-11. We've already highlighted some faculty who will join us for the Reconnect and Reignite session on Saturday afternoon. You won't want to miss our founder John Howard in conversation with current Head of School, Whitney Thompson on Saturday morning. We also have a trivia event for current parents, a video concert with alumni musicians, a great panel about lived values and much more! Visit campus virtually for one of our tours--with students, behind the scenes with alums and faculty, and even an evening ghost tour. If you are in Charlottesville, you are also welcome on campus Sunday morning at 11 for a socially distanced Meeting for Worship (health checks and masks required); if you aren't in town, there will be a virtual option. All virtual events will be on Zoom.
For this week's 50th Fridays post, let's talk reunions and anniversary celebrations. As you know, Tandem has turned 50, and we will kick off a year of celebrating with a special weekend of events October 9-11. Our plans for lots of great in-person gatherings morphed into some wonderful virtual gatherings instead to keep us all safe - but always connected. Save the weekend, especially Saturday, October 10, for some great opportunities to 'Reconnect and Reignite' with favorite former faculty, current faculty and old friends. Check our 50th anniversary webpage frequently as details are shared, and just to entice you, here are some special former faculty faces who have already agreed to be part of our online celebration! As one shared: 'It would be so much fun to reconnect with members of the Tandem family.' Don't disappoint them - mark your calendars and watch for details
Since the beginning, Tandem has emphasized experiential education opportunities for students. At Tandem, these are not just your standard school field trips, some are amazing off-campus jaunts for language immersion, service, outdoor adventure, Emphasis programs, history, arts/cultural immersion, and so much more. These adventures, from the Ganongathon to the 8th grade Arts Emphasis, usually combine community building time, subject area education, and outdoor education or service in the larger community. Got a favorite trip memory?
As we have been digging through the Tandem archives, scanning and sorting old photos and articles to prepare for celebrating our 50th anniversary, we have come across some entertaining finds. Anyone know what's going on here?
The start of every school year is a special time, and we were so excited to welcome students back for orientation this week. While we couldn't welcome our new students with the all of the same traditions as in past years, that wonderful sense of community that defines Tandem was still present for new and returning students and faculty. Share a favorite start of school memory!
With summer almost at an end, it's a great time to celebrate our Spectrum Summer Programs, bringing the campus to life for almost 40 summers. Begun in 1982, Spectrum has provided summer after summer of engaging and empowering 'safe havens for creative self-expression.' Led by dynamic director Fran Smith for the past 17 years, Spectrum employs many talented Tandem alums and faculty, as well as older Tandem students as assistants, to provide creative, hands-on explorations into all types of art, dance, music, drumming, fencing, crafts, basketball, theatre, outdoor adventure and so many more activities for elementary and middle school students. The campus is literally abuzz with creative energy for six weeks. Many Spectrum campers eagerly and seamlessly transition into engaged Tandem students. We really missed our young campers this summer so please share a favorite Spectrum memory!
Another beloved space on our Tandem Friends campus is our Community Hall, built in 1995 and home of morning meetings, all-school gatherings, Meetings for Worship, Speaker Series, seven theatre productions a year, two concerts and multiple open mics a year, countless senior pranks, dances and even wrestling briefly. Talk about versatility! Share a favorite Community Hall memory!
The visual arts have been thriving at Tandem since the school opened in 1970 and our list of Tandem students who have attended great college art programs and become professional artists grows daily. But every student at Tandem grows creatively and artistically with our strong visual arts programs in both the Middle and Upper Schools. Over the years, students have taken on painting, drawing, ceramics, photography, weaving, jewelry making, sculpture, life-changing art Emphasis Weeks, and so much more. The art space was and still is a favorite hangout on campus, where creativity and connections are discovered and developed daily. Share a favorite art moment, or some artwork of your own that might have been inspired by your time at Tandem.
The Tandem Friends campus sits on 30 acres of beautiful land, with gorgeous views of Carter Mountain behind us. There are eight buildings and many green spaces that give the school the feel of a college campus. The heartbeat of Tandem, though, is the quad area out back, which provides an open and lush grassy area with benches and shade trees and the big back porch of the Main Building - a space for lunches to be eaten and community to be cultivated, for games to be played and classes to meet on a sunny day, for fresh air and outside walks between classes, for spontaneous (and planned) live music and drama, for visits from baby goats on Spring Day. If you sit on the quad during a sunny lunchtime at Tandem, you will soak up the vibrant spirit and strong sense of community connections that make us Tandem Friends.
The first Tandem drama productions were performed on the back steps of the Main Building, on the quad, or in the Blue Room. With the completion of the Community Hall in the '90s, theatre at Tandem had a permanent home and longtime drama teacher Larry Goldstein fleshed out a program to include classes and three Upper School productions a year. A full Middle School program designed by Lydia Horan finds each Middle School grade presenting a production each year, in addition to the traditional 5th grade Midsummer Night's Dream. Many alums who got their start in Tandem drama now have successful careers in theatre and film acting and direction. Tandem's drama program is a powerhouse, delighting audiences and helping young people grow their creativity, share their voices, and develop confidence and collaborative skills that will help them throughout their lives. What was your favorite role on stage at Tandem?
Come into the Main Building at Tandem Friends on a normal school day and you may hear music (recorded or live) playing, voices laughing, or a competitive foosball match underway in the Senior Lounge, located on the main floor. On a cool fall or spring day, you might find the windows open and students studying or resting on one of the numerous couches and chairs that fill the room, 'decorated' each year by seniors and used as a study and relaxation place during break, lunchtime or free periods. A fireplace mantle and inset bookshelves serve as locker spaces, the former full kitchen just outside the lounge still has a sink and microwave for lunchtime use, and student murals and artwork, some dating back to the 1970s, adorn the walls. It's truly Tandem and unique in every way.
Another favorite space on the Tandem Friends campus is the Blue Room, named for the color it was originally painted when it was added on in the 1960s, a period of great renovation and change for the property. With its tall windows and French doors opening out to the boxwoods, it must have been a lovely family room. As Tandem's original multi-purpose room, the Blue Room has held morning meetings, theatre productions, and concerts; served as a classroom; hosted events like Speaker Series, Senior Project presentations, PTA parties, class meetings, 8th grade dinner/dances, and even a 5th grade campout that got rained out; showcased student artwork on its walls; provided a quiet study space and the occasional winter warmup by the fire, and so much more. The PTA completely renovated the Blue Room in 2006-2007, returning it to its original color and glory.
The Tandem Friends campus abounds with places that hold special meaning to community members - whether it's the quad out back or a favored classroom. In the early years, classes were held in the large main building on campus, a former family home, and one such favorite space was an upstairs classroom called the Soldier Room because of its very dated wallpaper covered with illustrations of soldiers. At one time, it served as French teacher Joan Barnett's room, as well as other classes over the years. It's now an administrative office but it's a popular alumni stop during visits, and if you peek behind the radiator under the window, you can still see a piece of that soldier wallpaper clinging to the wall, preserving memories.
Tandem sports began with an outdoor asphalt basketball court and one 'field', loads of optimism and determination, and a commitment to a no-cut sports policy. Field hockey played where the current parking lot is located. In the mid-1990s, the gym, field house and a larger field were added (our outdoor fields are now the envy of many a team). We have cheered on our teams (including wrestlers in the Community Hall) as the Trees, the Badgers, and the Quakers over the years. Our scholar athletes are selected regularly for all-conference and all-state honors, and our teams are frequent conference champions; our varsity girls' soccer team won the state championship for three years in a row (2010-2012). We've come a long way in 50 years!
Service to the community has been a cornerstone of education at Tandem since its founding in 1970. Tandem Friends students are encouraged to let their lives speak through their personal actions and to take responsibility for creating change. We encourage you to be involved in your community and to take action on the issues that matter to you.
This 50th Friday, we take a look back at Tandem graduations. While we will celebrate our Class of 2020 in some ways online tomorrow, we hope to be able to honor them with an on-campus ritual in August that will include many of Tandem's beloved traditions that make our graduations so memorable - the surprise entrance by the graduates, hearing each student's voice, the ritual of gratitude, the heartfelt remarks about each student, and more. Check out some memories of previous graduation celebrations and entrances, and share a favorite memory or photo (especially of an entrance as we couldn't share all of them).
This week for 50th Fridays, we're celebrating two of Tandem's special days. Fun spring traditions at Tandem abound, including Spring Day and Senior Prank Day. We certainly missed enjoying them this year and we can't wait to enjoy them together again next year.
The Tandem Friends Mother’s Day Music Festival began in the late 80’s as an official school-run event, held each Mother's Day weekend. By the mid '90’s, it had become a completely student-organized, student-run event, unique every year. It's been held out front, on the quad, in the Community Hall, in a myriad of configurations with additional offerings from food trucks to dad-grilled burgers to tie-dyed t's to baby goat petting zoos - but with two constants - great local music and free admission for mothers. We missed this year’s event and wanted to honor both the students working hard to bring it to life this year and the many students over the years who took on MDMF with passion and determination. To them, to our music teachers, and to the countless (including some well-known) musicians who shared their talents each May...thank you for the music!
In 50th Fridays this week, we are celebrating the amazing teachers in Tandem's past. In 1970, Tandem began with 22 students and a handful of visionary teachers. Today our faculty of 36 stewards the education of 220 students as they grow together in tandem. While we couldn't include pictures of everyone in this video, we hope you'll see some faces you remember.
Tandem School opened in September of 1970 with 22 students in 9th and 10th grades situated in a brick house near Pantops. In 1972, Tandem and its 67 students (now in grades 9-12) moved to the current location at the former Hillcrest Farm after the property, which the school had been hoping to lease and then buy, was purchased for Tandem by an anonymous donor.