The HDS Families Program has been a part of the Harbor Day School experience since it was started in 1997 by student council members under the direction of former Middle School Director Louise Upham. The basis of this program is to allow the students to interact with students in all grade levels. A Harbor Day School Family comprises nine or ten students starting in kindergarten and going through eighth grade and one faculty or staff member who meets together in a group. Students remain in the same Family the entire time they are at HDS. As one child graduates or leaves school, the student is replaced in the Family unit by a new child entering the school. This program creates a safe space for students to grow, share, and learn together.
During monthly meetings, Families work collaboratively on various projects. At the beginning of the school year, they craft personalized cards for their new kindergarten family member. After that meeting, the family sixth grader will meet their new kindergarten student, introduce themselves, and read a book together. Each month, the program provides an opportunity where each child is known and feels supported. These activities emphasize teamwork, empathy, and respect for one another. A favorite activity is the Spaghetti Tower Team Building Challenge, where families compete to build the tallest tower for ultimate bragging rights. Another highly anticipated event that takes place is Family Field Day. Now that we have a completed field, we held our first field day in almost four years, which included sack races, relay races, and hula hoop spinning.
The most meaningful part of the HDS Families Program is the continuity of the program from kindergarten through eighth grade. It’s a journey that lasts from a child's first steps in the school to their graduation day. It’s one of the many ways students feel connected at the school. Harbor Day is where learning is an adventure, friendships are timeless, and every student can thrive in an inclusive and nurturing environment.