In Depth

Pinewood Has a Family Feel

By Allyson Levy


Pinewood’s small community makes it feel like a tight-knit family. Everyone knows everyone. Through sports, extracurriculars, clubs, and classes, the students and faculty have close bonds that embody an extended family. 

Principal Gabriel Lemmon finds family within the student body, both figuratively and literally. With a wife working at middle campus and two children in high school, it’s easy to see why he sees the student body as an extended family. 

“The best part for me as a father is that I get to see my children grow and

develop every day,” Lemmon said. “I get to see them in class, at lunch, and in the assemblies, which is a unique vantage.

Moving from Maryland, Jamie Fields, a teacher in the history department, didn’t know anyone, but she was immediately given a warm welcome by Pinewood. 

“There’s an indescribable ‘je ne sais quoi’ about Pinewood,” Fields said.

In Fields’ classes, along with other teachers, there are typically less than 15 students per class. Students are able to develop closer bonds with one another, as opposed to a much larger school. Srinivas Balagopal, a senior who started relatively recently in ninth grade, gave his take on why Pinewood feels like a family to him. 

“Pinewood is able to integrate intellectual curiosity with character development. People here can be successful in their own ways and they want to help others achieve their goals. Most of all, Pinewood is a place where no one gets left behind. To me, that’s the textbook definition of a family,” Balagopal said. 

It could be stated that the reason why the  Pinewood atmosphere is comparable to that of a family is because it is, in fact, owned and operated by a family. The Riches family has members both working at Pinewood, as well as relatives enrolled in its curriculum. Pinewood President Scott Riches gave his take on why Pinewood  is so special.    

“It is hard to imagine that any other school could have a stronger family feel than Pinewood.  This can be attributed to the small class sizes, the opportunities for the students to be involved in a wide and varied range of extra curricular activities, and the strong rapport our teachers have with the students.  In the end, this creates a close knit community of kind, respectful, happy students,” Riches said.