On September 13, 1961, The Independent Day School opened its doors for its first-ever academic year with the hope and ambition of challenging and exciting local students in and out of the classroom. Fast forward to 60 years later, and members of the IDS community are still accomplishing that same goal.
“The founding families of IDS were leaders in the Middletown, Meriden, and Wallingford communities and they wanted to build a school that was focused on academic excellence and community-minded participation,” remarked Head of School, Dr. Marijke Kehrhahn. “It's always inspiring to meet IDS graduates - whether they graduated in the 60's, the 90's or just a few years ago - and to learn about the good and challenging work they are doing in the world. That desire to give back, to participate, to speak up, to contribute is what makes our graduates stand out. Our founders would be proud of the school we have been and the school we are today.”
This past Monday, The Independent Day School celebrated its 60th Anniversary (to the exact date!) with school-colored gifts, cupcakes, and wearing IDS attire. However, the big celebration of the day came in the afternoon, when the entire school gathered on the front field for a special concert.
Waiting for the students on the outdoor stage were Presley and Taylor, members of the IDS Class of 2011 and 2013, respectively. After graduating from IDS, the two sisters moved to Nashville and created the country duo of Presley & Taylor, which is currently signed to White Mustang Records. The pair of country singers, along with their three band members, tour all over the country performing at various shows and festivals, and it was a stroke of luck that they happened to be in Connecticut (performing at the Hebron Harvest Fair the day before) at the same time of the school’s anniversary.
“We were so excited when we heard we could be part of the 60th anniversary because we attended IDS for so many years and it truly felt like home to us,” said Presley. “We are just so blessed to be here and to share our love of music and message to all of the current IDS students.”
Presley & Taylor proceeded to put on a tremendous 45-minute show for the students, mixing in both their own original music along with playing current top country favorites. They consistently interacted with the crowd throughout their performances, asking the students to clap along and keep beat during each song, and had all the students join in singing “Happy Birthday!” to IDS, as well as all participating in singing the School Song. In-between songs, the two singers spoke about how going to IDS shaped them into the artists they are today and how much this special school community meant to them.
“This is truly where it all started,” remarked Taylor. “It was through the school’s music and theater programs that really made us fall in love with performing and inspired us to pursue a career in music and prepared us for this journey.”
While IDS has seen many enhancements over the past 60 years, including the additions of the Early Childhood building, the Galluzzo Theater, and the mile-long nature trail and soccer fields, it has stayed true to its core values from its inception - to challenge its students to be their best selves while never being afraid to chase their dreams and ambitions.
“IDS has thrived over the last 60 years because it has always been - and continues to be - a school that is truly student-centered, a quality that becomes more and more unique and sought after as education becomes more regimented and test-score focused,” reflected Dr. Kehrhahn. “Our school has changed in many ways over the years to meet the challenges and demands of the day but our program has always challenged students to work hard to be their best selves and has always been firmly grounded in the ideals of empathy, compassion, and respect.”