by Jessica Shirey, Cannon School Parent
Reading Cannon’s last social media post of the school year, I sat and frantically calculated the date in my head. 2028. Basically, a lifetime away. On the screen was a beautiful picture of Chris Gaskin, my son’s Senior Buddy, celebrating his graduation day with his family. In his maroon cap and gown, Chris was a bright and self-assured young man. His mother had a glowing smile that lit up the picture and his father looked so proud. They had accomplished so much as a family since Chris had started at Cannon in Junior Kindergarten and we were just starting down the same path.
My name is Jessica Shirey and I’m a newer Cannon School parent. My son, Will V., was in Junior Kindergarten last year and now we are excited to be starting our journey down the Lower School hallway. My husband and I both attended independent schools, so Cannon School was one of our first stops when we moved to Concord and had our son. After we received Will’s acceptance letter and a steady stream of information for “New Families” arrived, I was confident that I should have had tailored information that said “New to Cannon Families,” since I wasn’t new to independent schools. I knew that students weren’t playing Oregon Trail anymore, but I didn’t think schools had changed very much and I knew exactly what to do as we joined the community.
I read the Junior Kindergarten Parents’ Manual from cover to cover and was convinced that my learning related to Cannon School was complete. I had the book knowledge that I needed and we were ready to launch. On Will’s first day when he got out of the car I drove off so quickly that he barely had time to shut the door. After all, the circulation plan did say to keep moving and not to exit my vehicle. Only after I drove away from the curb did I see that families were walking their children to the door of the Snyder Building, hugging friends after the summer, and taking pictures. I have to admit that I got teary watching my son brave his first day alone, because I had been too focused on the rules and not the celebration of the milestone. I wanted to go back, but I didn’t even know how to turn around or where to park. He took it in stride, but from that moment I resolved to become an active participant in the school community.
If I had been playing Oregon Trail, I should have caulked my wagon to ford the Junior Kindergarten river. I went to every event and the year was full of fun and learning. I knew I would have to work at learning about the Cannon community after our first day curbside debacle but I brought corn to the Thanksgiving Feast, cookies to the end of the year party and everything in between. Did I dress Will in the wrong outfit or park in the wrong place sometimes? Of course, it happens to all of us. But as I watched my son go from standing alone on the curb to running to meet his friends each day, I knew that we were doing the right things as a family. For us, the first year was about becoming Cougars. Our path won’t be exactly like the Gaskins’, but I know that at graduation each family in our class will have a photo with a confident young man or woman ready to take on their next adventure.
On our first day, I had a reminder that my learning about Cannon is going to be an adventure. Throughout the year, I’m going to explore our community and discuss events, make some new faces familiar, and show you some areas of the school that you (and I) may not have seen before. I hope you will join me for some sneak peeks and if there is anything that you are wondering about, let me know. We are all becoming Cougars and we’ll learn together!