Administration delivers State of the School address


Printed with permission of Ed Hu

President Rick Commons introduces revised Visions during the state of the school address.

William Liu

Administration leaders and the HW Parents Association (HWPA) kicked off the 2022-2023 school year with a presentation about the school’s development at the State of the School address Wednesday. In addition to remarks about the school’s progress, the address featured six renewed Vision statements.

The speakers included President Rick Commons, Associate Head of School Laura Ross, and HWPA President Pam Lumpkin-Baffo.

Commons presented six Visions revising the Visions for 2020, which was a set of proposals and goals for the school outlined in 2014. The six new Visions emphasize the health and wellbeing of students, personal character and community citizenship, diversity, equity and inclusion, extraordinary teaching and learning, admitting the most promising students in Los Angeles and developing the Harvard Westlake River Park.

Commons said the six Visions are an important step to moving the school in the right direction.

“This [middle school] campus is one of the most exquisite campuses there is,” Commons said. “And it’s for grades seven, eight, and nine. That Vision stemmed from someone who saw a vision and made it happen.”

Ross and Lumpkin-Baffo then joined Commons on stage to discuss these Visions and how they formed methods to engage in them. Ross said her role focuses on shaping school policy from the student perspective.

“My job here is to envision what these Visions look like in a classroom,” Ross said. “It’s important that I really look at every point and see how students are doing. How can we make sure every student feels like they are seen?”

Ross said educators should look to Former Performing Arts Teacher Ted Walch, who recently passed from brain cancer, as an example of how to make students feel understood.

“When I spoke to many students, they mentioned how Ted saw their perspective,” Ross said. “They told me, ‘Mr. Walch knew me.’ That’s the peace that is crucial to learning.”

Lumpkin-Baffo said she sees the importance of prioritizing student wellbeing as one of the six Visions.

“I am so glad that the first point [of the Visions] is the health and well-being of students,” Lumpkin-Baffo said. “When kids feel like they are not an outsider, but happy and part of the community, they are so much more ready to excel and discover.”

Parent John Henry said he appreciates how the administration updates the community on their goals.

“We feel very fortunate and appreciative that the faculty and administrators take the time to have these kinds of discussion with parents,” Henry said. “The transparency is really something I appreciate.”