October 3, 2017
It is with mixed emotions that I write to inform you that this will be my last year leading The Park School of Buffalo. There are times in one’s life when an opportunity presents itself that is just too compelling to pass up. I have recently been presented with such an opportunity and in July will be embarking on a new professional adventure as Head of School at The Albany Academies (Albany, NY).
It has been ten years since my family and I moved from Boston to Buffalo. Along the way I have been honored to work with a dedicated and passionate board of trustees who support Park in myriad ways. I have also been fortunate to be part of an incredible community of colleagues, students, parents, alumni, and friends of the School who have worked tirelessly to continuously improve Park, with some remarkable results.
Enrollment is up from 236 students in 2008 to 303 students today. Thanks to generous donors, Park raised $1,300,000 to retire the School’s debt in 2012 and nearly $5,000,000 to support Science@Park, culminating in the Knopp-Hailpern Science Building, which will begin construction this November. Support for Park’s Annual Fund has increased from $228,000 in 2008 to $334,000 this year, with substantial increases in participation across constituent groups and leadership giving. Most importantly Park has educated hundreds of students over the last decade, and I know in my bones that each of them developed tremendous academic skills as well as the confidence and self-awareness to live happy, successful lives.
While these might be satisfying metrics, it’s the countless warm memories of the last ten years that truly resonate with me. Of these, I hope you will allow me to share three. The first was looking out upon a ballroom of hundreds of Park friends and alumni celebrating the School’s centennial in 2012, which demonstrated to me what a special place Park has in the history of Buffalo. The second involves cheering at the top of my lungs as the Boys Varsity Basketball Team won the New York State championship, which proved that our school might be small, but it is also mighty. The third was sitting through my daughter’s first student-directed parent-teacher conference and coming to fully realize, both intellectually and emotionally, the incredible quality of a Park School education.
As I reflect on the last decade I am forever grateful for all that we have accomplished together. Enrollment is strong, finances are stable, and Park is in an excellent place for a leadership transition. I am also heartened by the fact that the teams responsible for Park’s continuous improvements will remain at the School long after my departure, and am pleased to report that the Board of Trustees has chosen Jeremy Besch to serve as the leader of these teams as Park’s Interim Head of School next year. He is an exceptional person, educator, and leader who can ably navigate Park through this transition.
As is the curious way of independent schools, this is the beginning of a long goodbye. There is a lot to do between now and July to make sure that my transition has minimal impact on the life of the School and, most importantly, the students we serve. I look forward to working through this and have tremendous faith in our community’s ability to adapt to change, a faith that has been borne out through years of experience.
Park is truly a community like no other, and being part of this community has been a wonderful privilege for me and my family. My children have grown up here, guided by trusted teachers and coaches, spending endless hours exploring the woods and the pond, running up and down the fields, and laughing with friends in hallways and at lunch tables. We will be forever grateful for this opportunity and when Kristin, Josephine, Tristan, and I make the final journey east on I-90 this spring, we will do so with all of you in our hearts.
Christopher J. Lauricella
Head of School