Principals Perspective (June 2022) - Dr. Lisa Vardi
Dr. Lisa Vardi

Reflections on my First Year as CESJDS High School Principal

What a joyful celebration we had at the final Kab Shab of the 2021-22 school year! Full of laughter, song, music and the Dvar Torah delivered by our student government presidents. Kabbalat Shabbat, our weekly gathering to mark the end of the school week and welcome in Shabbat, highlights the talents, commitment and learning in our high school k’hillah (community). This year approximately 150 students, over 40 percent of the high school, led, performed, or participated behind the scenes at Kab Shab - a remarkable leadership opportunity for students.

At this final gathering, I addressed the students, faculty, and staff, sharing that it has been an honor and privilege to have joined the CESJDS community as their High School Principal. I also shared how much I love coming to “work” every day because of the people gathered in the gym: our curious, confident, and passionate students, and wonderful, caring, and committed faculty and staff.

CESJDS is a school that truly lives its mission, to provide an exemplary and inspiring general and Jewish education and embraces its values. Besides experiencing this every week at Kab Shab, I witnessed the extraordinary mission-driven accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff by:

  • Attending Shabbatoonim at Capital Camps with our 9th (November), 10th (April) and 11th graders (March). During these overnight experiences we all hiked, learned, prayed, and played together (Thank you to the 10th graders who invited me to play Gaga!)
  • Experiencing my first CESJDS Joan and Marvin Rosenberg High School Musical in December. Our production of 1776 displayed the phenomenal musical and stage crew talents of our student body.
  • Watching in awe and wonder as our 12th grade students led Siyyum and Graduation in February.
  • Witnessing the commitment of the Classes of 2023, 2024, and 2025, to Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) as they worked together to raise funds for the Ukrainian humanitarian relief effort.
  • Serving as a judge for our first ever Makeathon, a joint effort by our Center for STEM in Jewish Education and Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM), which gave our students an opportunity to problem solve for a Need-Knower who faced a specific challenge.
  • Walking through the Upper School spaces at Arts Chai Lights, the JK-12 celebration of creativity in May which included student performances (including Harmoniah, High School Band, and Shir Madness), displays of student and faculty artwork, hands-on making in the Cardo and in the STEM iLab.
  • Watching and participating in my first ever Zimriyah, CESJDS’ Israeli song competition to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut. I loved singing “Yachad Lev El Lev” with the entire high school faculty.
  • Cheering on our dedicated student athletes at their many practices, games, and championship matches during all three sports seasons.
  • Reading the online articles from the Lion’s Tale and anticipating the release of the bimonthly print edition.
  • Learning from and with my remarkable 9th grade k’hillah (advisory) students every week. A big shout out to my nine 9th graders who brought such joy and laughter to my office every week!

I ended our final Kab Shab sharing with students my hopes for them this summer:

  • To continue to demonstrate strength and resilience as they have done living through this pandemic over the past several years.
  • To grow in their independence.
  • To conduct themselves with integrity and honor in all that they do.
  • To take advantage of all opportunities afforded them this summer.
  • To stay safe and make good choices.
  • And most importantly, to experience immense joy and have lots of fun!

We look forward to welcoming students back to campus in August and continuing to deliver a remarkable general and Jewish education. Have a wonderful summer!