By Malena Solin ’20
In her candidate statement for the school chair position last spring, Piper Stacey emphasized goals for promoting friendships between grades in Thacher’s student body: “I wanted to be able to give people a way to have connections between grades because I felt like I didn’t have that as an underclassman.” She also focused on allowing students to ask questions at Head’s Invites without feeling pressure to begin their homework. While she discovered that her earlier ambition to have kombucha and acai sorbet in the dining hall “may not be the most important thing on [her] agenda,” Piper advanced her other areas of focus by creating the Knot Family system and reconstructing the schedule of the first Head’s Invite this year with success.
Knot Families are groupings of students, as a group of toads is called a knot, comprised of different grades and dorms. Piper organized a Knot Family seating arrangement at formal dinner during the first few weeks of school and began a weekly tradition of Knot Family Feud during Wednesday assemblies, as promised in her candidate statement. Knot Family Feud is a competition between Knot Families mimicking the television show Family Feud that began in the late 1970s. Each Wednesday, Knot families compete against each other to guess the most popular answers to questions from general American survey data or a Thacher poll, bringing laughter from the audience and participants.
Piper also changed the schedule for the first Head’s Invite by having the speaker talk to the community before formal dinner on a Sunday, allowing for discussions during dinner. Following formal, the speaker was available for additional questions and discussion in the Thacher Room. Piper asked students to submit a survey on their opinions on the new Head’s Invite schedule, and she was surprised to find a positive response from 70 percent of the students who answered. As the school year has progressed, Piper’s plans have generated conversations between students from many grades, and allowed the student body to more thoroughly enjoy the speaker, demonstrating her success as she transitions into her new role.
Piper is also hopeful about the possibility of post-formal dinner discussions on Sunday nights in the Thacher Room. The goal would be to encourage discussion of a controversial topic such as “Is being transracial okay?” or “What is our belief on cannibalism and does it change knowing that cannibalism is environmentally friendly?” Possibly partnering with the Tea Club to enjoy tea during the discussions, Piper hopes to encourage the community to consider how it can answer difficult questions together.
While Piper’s immediate achievements with the Knot Families and Head’s Invites have shown her dedication to her role, they are not her greatest personal successes. “The hardest thing for me about being school chair is the public speaking part,” she said, though she runs assembly each Wednesday and began the school year with a speech to the community. In addition to communicating with the community as a whole, Piper wants to be seen as an “approachable person,” saying, “being school chair has allowed me to feel more comfortable reaching out to younger students.” Piper hopes to encourage the Thacher community to extend conversations to incorporate students from all dorms, an ambitious goal for the year, but the Knot Family program that she established has already begun to make progress.