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Parent Perspectives with Dr. Henna Budhwani | Week 2

Parent Perspectives with Dr. Henna Budhwani | Week 2
Christina Coffman

The goal of Parent Perspectives is to share authentic insights into the Highlands School experience. If you would like to contribute to subsequent posts, please email me at

This week, we cover school traditions, campus events, and merchandising.



  • If your child is a rising Kindergartener, a Highlands School sign will magically appear in your yard right before school starts.
  • Our mascot is the Blue Devil, but you are more likely to hear parents yell “Go Highlands!”
  • Our colors are royal blue and white.
  • In the Spencer Center, we begin events by first reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. If there is not a freestanding flag on stage, you can face the flag installation in the back of the auditorium.
  • Teddy Bear Day is a beloved campus tradition; 4K and eighth graders are paired to read together and bring teddy bears to bear witness (so punny!). You can learn more about this tradition by clicking this here.
  • In first grade, learning to count money at Smith’s Variety is a charming, albeit somewhat overwhelming, tradition.
  • Highlands Helps is our school’s community service committee. Highlands Helps hosts a service event in the fall that is typically outdoors and offsite. Past events have included cleaning the Cahaba River, clearing brush at Red Mountain, or maintaining grounds at Railroad Park. In the spring, we have a Highlands Helps day of service where the campus unites to support the mission of multiple community partners. Love to this year's Highlands Helps Chair, Dr. Liesel French. Thank you to Shea Seaman for providing this information.
  • Field Day is an outdoor event that occurs at the end of the school year.
  • The school year ends with two back-to-back half days, which can be confusing.


Grade-Level Events:

  • Annual grade-level school plays are fantastic, but finding costumes can be stressful. I have a kid who was a seagull one year. See picture. Note the side eye.
  • Culminations occur once a semester and provide students the opportunity to present their projects to parents and peers on a topic that the grade has been studying. For example, if the class topic is the environment, each student (or student team) will develop a project with an activity on different environmental factors. During the culmination, parents visit the project stations and engage directly with students.
  • Community Meetings occur once a semester. Students in a specific class present on a topic in front of peers and parents. Students are on stage in the Spencer Center.
  • I am not including events unique to the middle school experience; there will be an entire post dedicated to the magic of being in the middle at Highlands.


Whole Campus Events:

  • Because whole campus events are so well attended, parking is always terrible. Carpool, if possible.
  • One of our favorite events is Fall Festival. The community gathers after school and enjoys watching our children run around in costume, eat candy, and play games. One year I forgot my costume, but since the boys were dressed as dragons, I simply clipped a piece of paper to my shirt that read “Mother of Dragons.”
  • On Halloween, only children enrolled in the Family Center and first grade (plus faculty and staff) are allowed to wear costumes on campus. The first graders participate in a costume parade around the quad. Parents of first graders, faculty, staff, and students all come out to cheer for the little ones.
  • Spring Fling is an on-campus carnival-esque experience; there are activities, treats, and lots of laughter and happiness.
  • Grandparents Day (aka Special Friends Day) is in the spring. Your child can bring grandparents or a special friend to Highlands for a celebration of family and friendship. Since some children may not have grandparents who can attend, the school honors whatever works best for each family.



  • If you want to buy Highlands gear, buy it when it is available. Merchandising is volunteer run through the Parents Auxiliary, meaning that merchandise may not be offered every year. Shout out to the magnificent Apryl Marie Fogel for running merchandising last year; everyone loved your puffer vests!
  • During the Back to School Open House, you will receive a Highlands School field trip t-shirt. Your child will collect many of these shirts over the years.
  • Once your child grows out of their Highlands School merchandise, please consider passing it on to a family with a younger child. I am all about sharing history, building community, and lowering our environmental impact through reuse. Moreover, I think little and big kids, alike, will love this form of community building.



Dr. Henna Budhwani is an Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; she is married to Dr. Karim Budhwani, CEO of elixir international and CerFlux. Together they have twin boys in the fourth grade: Brahma Mubarak and Khidr Kishan. Dr. Budhwani was born in Chicago; her students know her as Dr. B, and she occasionally signs her emails as The Notorious B.U.D. Dr. Budhwani was previously a Highlands Parents Auxiliary Grade Level Representative and supports the school’s merchandising efforts.

  • Parents