The first day of school is like no other. Every opening day evokes for me memories of new shoes, awkward hairstyles, anxiety, and excitement. Yet school now is quite different than it was back in the day. I wonder what it would be like to start all over and grow up as a Prospect Sierra student in the 21st century.

This year Prospect Sierra celebrates 30 years. In honor of that, I consider what it means to be 30 in today’s world. For my “research,” I spoke with Jonah Klein, Prospect School alumnus and 5th grade homeroom teacher, who is a year shy of this milestone birthday. Here’s what I found out:

If you were 30, you would have …

  • only known about John Lennon in the past tense
  • been born about the same year MTV launched
  • been in 1st or 2nd grade when the Berlin Wall fell
  • never used a typewriter
  • sent emails in middle school
  • had a cell phone in high school
  • had your own computer in college
  • and completed most of your college research papers on the Internet.

Upon leaving college, you would have seen the end of the Clinton presidency, and the dot-com bubble would soon burst.

As Prospect Sierra celebrates 30 years, it’s important to reflect on the ways in which the world has changed and how students of this generation are learning. All forms of media—videos, television, YouTube, social networks, smart phones, Facebook, and more are rapidly changing the way young people today relate to one another and acquire information.

Yet much remains the same. For 30 years, Prospect Sierra has given teachers the freedom and resources to inspire students to become passionate about learning. After 30 years, we still value and teach human, rather than electronic, connection; the timeless skills of effective written and oral communication (not short-hand texting); and we herald the qualities of hard work and self-motivation.

Even as the rapidly changing world requires us to teach new skills and adopt new technologies, Prospect Sierra, founded on the principles of respect, fairness, compassion, diversity, service, and authenticity, has remained the same. On this first day of school, I am so delighted to welcome you back and have you join me and the rest of the Prospect Sierra staff on a wonderful journey of learning. Come see all the ways we are changing … and how timeless we remain.

Katherine Dinh
Head of School