There’s no better way to start getting acquainted with Greenhills than by learning a few key phrases used around the school.

Hence, this lexicon, which is a working document —  we are continuously adding to and updating entries.

Advisory  Twice a week, middle and upper school students meet with their advisory, a group of approximately 10 students from their grade, and a Greenhills faculty member. This time is used to discuss any problems occurring with classes, homework, and peers, as well as to simply relax from a busy workday and share a quick snack together. Members of the advisory rotate providing the snack for the group. Advisory groups and the faculty/staff advisor assigned to the group change each school year. After freshmen year, upper school students are invited to provide input as to who is in their advisory group.

Alcove – The Alcove is the school’s student run newspaper. As of 2016, the Alcove will be completely digital. Two student editors-in-chief are chosen each year to head the paper, and all upper school students are welcome to write for the Alcove. Students may also submit comics and artwork for the paper.

Alternative Spring Break in Detroit  Alternative Spring Break is an upper school service trip to Detroit which occurs over the scheduled week of spring break. Students apply to attend the trip and are only turned away if the trip is full. Participants meet periodically prior to the trip to plan activities, select the organizations with which they want to volunteer, and share information about topics they choose to research relevant to the work they will be doing. The experience puts a premium on engaged students designing a trip that meshes with their interests and skills. The Service Learning Director and Greenhills faculty come along as chaperones.

The Alumni Forum – A twice-yearly magazine published by the communications office for students, families, alumni, faculty and friends of Greenhills that highlights some of the events that make Greenhills such a remarkable community.

Annual Fund for Greenhills – As at virtually every independent school, tuition dollars alone do not cover the cost of a Greenhills education. Tax-deductible contributions to the Annual Fund help make up the difference. Gifts of all sizes from families, alumni, and faculty joint together to place a promising future within the reach of every student, every day. These gifts sustain a robust financial aid program that keeps our school accessible to students from all walks of life, supply our student athletes, musicians, actors, artists, and public speakers with everything they need to succeed, and attract and retain outstanding faculty.

ASG (After School at Greenhills)  An aftercare program for middle school students that runs from 3:30-6 p.m. Parents are billed directly. Students and families do not need to sign up in advance. Students simply sign in when they arrive and sign out when they leave. Students use the time for homework or to socialize with their peers. Snacks are provided.

ASO (Art Support Organization) –  Part of the Greenhills Parent Organization (GPO), the ASO is open to both middle and upper school families. Parents volunteer to help run choir, theater, jazz band, orchestra, and art-related concerts and events, including being in charge of tickets, receptions/refreshments, and programs.


A2Y Service Day – A spring service day that occurs every other year and offers all middle and upper school students the opportunity to explore the greater Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area through service. Students fill out an interest form and are assigned to an organization for the day. Students and faculty are transported to and from their assigned location on school buses. The event is limited to Greenhills students only. All students are expected to participate. No classes are held that day.

Booster Club – The Booster Club has always been on hand to cheer your Gryphons to victory. And over the last couple of years the group has put on spring and fall tailgates on days when multiple teams play at home, providing a fun, family-friendly environment for Greenhills fans to watch their sports teams compete. Stop by at the next one for a hot dog or to shake Gryph’s wing!

Capstone Night (8th grade) – A celebratory event in which all 8th graders present either a dramatic reading of a memoir piece created in English class or an essay about a Sustainability Action Project which was created in science class. The evening begins in the theater where parents and students watch two memoir pieces and two essay pieces. Afterward, students gather in classrooms around the school and continue to present their memoir and essay pieces in smaller groups. Every student participates throughout the course of the evening. Siblings are welcome.

Chocolate Lounge – An annual winter event sponsored by the junior class to benefit one of two student endowment funds, the Savageau Fund or Heitman Fund (both funds support student activities at Greenhills).The student chairs and committee members work with 11th grade GPO parent leads (with support from the alumni office) to coordinate an evening of musical and improvisational entertainment. Traditionally, the Jazz Bands, Improv Group, and other musical groups comprising faculty and students perform while attendees enjoy a wide array of desserts and the chocolate fountain. This two-hour event takes place in the dining room, which is transformed for the evening into a lounge-like setting. While sponsored by the junior class, students and families from all grades are encouraged to purchase tickets and attend. Tickets can be purchased in advance from any 11th grader or at the door the night of the event.

Class Trips (upper school) – All upper school students travel off-campus with their class, team leaders, and other faculty for an overnight class trip in mid-September. In the past, freshmen have generally spent two nights near Torch Lake engaged in activities designed to help them get to know one another and create class unity. Sophomores have traveled to The Pinery, in Ontario, where they camp, hike, and continue to bond as a class. Juniors have done service in Detroit and participated in team-building activities at Camp Tamarack. The seniors typically conduct a leadership retreat in a camp-like setting in Lapeer County.

Class Trips (middle school) – Middle school class trips take place in the spring. The sixth graders spend two nights at a camp, the seventh graders travel to Mackinac Island, and the eighth graders tour Washington, D.C.

Competitive Student Clubs – These clubs—including Robotics, Chess, National Science Bowl, National Ocean Science Bowl, Forensics, Debate, and more—enable students to learn even as they enjoy all the fun of competition and the camaraderie and cohesiveness of a team.

Cum Laude Society – The Cum Laude Society recognizes and welcomes students for academic distinction. During junior year, 10% of students with the highest GPAs are inducted into the Cum Laude Society. Senior year, the next 10% of students with the highest GPAs in that class are inducted. A special assembly recognizes and inducts these students each year.

Dance Contracts – Students need to bring this contract, signed by the student and a parent/guardian, to each dance.  All non-Greenhills students must complete the Guest Contract. Contracts are available online.

Detroit Day – A spring service day that occurs every other year and offers all students, grades 6-12, the opportunity to explore many aspects of Detroit through service. Students fill out an interest form and are assigned to a location for the day. Locations range from organizations such as Blight Busters, Food Gatherers, and Urban Gardens to various elementary schools and nursing homes. Students in grades 6-12 are assigned to mixed-age groups, offering students opportunities to build friendships across grade levels. Students and faculty are transported to and from their assigned location on school buses. They all return to school in the early afternoon to reflect on their experiences in small groups. Although this event is limited to Greenhills students, many students find themselves returning to the organization regularly, bringing family and friends.

Diversity Day – An annual day in which all students are excused from classes and attend a number of diversity related sessions, hosted by guest speakers. The day begins with a keynote speaker in the theater where the entire school gathers. Other guest speakers arrive throughout the day to hold smaller sessions. Students fill out an interest form to sign up for specific sessions. Students end the day watching a diversity-related film of their choice.

E-Forum – Each month the school’s communications office sends out the e-Forum, an electronic newsletter highlighting the most interesting events that happened that month as well as upcoming events the community might be interested in.

Eighth Grade Celebration – A ceremony/celebration in June marking the transition from middle to upper school. During this event, the head of middle school addresses all in attendance. The ceremony also includes an elected student speaker and several other student performances. All eighth graders sit on stage for the duration of the program, and families and friends are encouraged to attend.

Ethics Bowl – Ethics bowl is a competitive discussion of ethical reasoning, usually surrounding one particular question or case study. The ethics bowl community is a group of scholarly thinkers dedicated to thinking and discussing important ethical questions and, through doing so, creating lasting change in the world.  After three decades teaching ethics at Greenhills School and at the U-M School of Kinesiology, Jeanine DeLay founded the nonprofit A2 Ethics to “interject ethical discussions into everyday life.” Last year, her group partnered with the U-M Department of Philosophy outreach program to found the Michigan ethics bowl competition.

Evergreen – The Evergreen is the school’s annual literary magazine, written and published by students. Students submit all types of literary work including artwork to the student editors-in-chief, who compile all the works into one cohesive book.

Facebook (school directory) – The school directory, available online, features each student’s school picture next to his/her family’s contact information. All faculty and staff members are also pictured and listed in the Facebook.

Fancy Friday – Each Friday, members of the senior class gather in their Forum for a picture in their choice of Fancy Friday dress. Themes vary throughout the year.

Flip Day (8th grade transition) –  A day when eighth graders attend high school English, History, Math, and Science classes to get a feel for the upper school.


Forensics  A public speaking program for students at the middle and upper school level in conjunction with the Individual Events Program sponsored by the Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association (MIFA). Students participate in one of 12 events (e.g. extemporaneous, informative, storytelling, etc.), and compete against other students from schools all over Michigan. Rehearsals are held weekly throughout the school year with coaching provided by staff members and experienced peers. Middle school students may compete at two state tournaments, and upper school students may participate in numerous tournaments culminating in a state elimination series. As symbols of accomplishment, trophies, plaques, and ribbons may be earned. The program emphasizes the development of communication skills.

Forums (grade/class) –  A designated area assigned to each grade surrounded by lockers, cubbies, and a common meeting space. Each grade (6-12) has its own forum, and classes change forums every year. Forums are used for grade specific meetings and also serve as  spaces for students to work or socialize during free periods as well as before or after school.

Forward – The Greenhills yearbook, entirely student designed and formatted. Available for purchase to all Greenhills community members.

GPO (Greenhills Parent Organization) – This group is designed to facilitate communication between parents and the school and to help promote the best interests of the school community. As such, it sponsors and/or provides the volunteer workforce for several annual events such as back to school nights, exam snacks, Greenstock, holiday cookie trays, faculty/staff appreciation lunch, and parent forums. The upper school and middle school each have a parent chair or chairs who provide leadership for the group as a whole and set the agenda for the general membership meetings. Additionally, each grade typically has two representatives who help keep parents informed about and solicit help with upcoming grade-specific events. All Greenhills parents are automatically members of the GPO and are encouraged to get involved and attend the general membership meetings when possible.

Grandparents & Special Friends Day – This day is designed for students to welcome grandparents or special friends into the Greenhills community. Students take their guests with them from class to class usually on the day before Thanksgiving break starts.

Greenhills Award –  Teachers of grades 6-11 vote annually to select a few members of each class whose contributions and achievements during the year have been especially significant and who have been excellent examples for their classmates.

Greenstock –  An outdoor music festival celebrating the end of the school year. Typically held on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, Greenstock fills the school’s amphitheater with student music and food. The upper school jazz bands typically fill the majority of the performance time, although other students and faculty are welcome to make arrangements to perform as well. All middle and upper school students are served a free lunch and are encouraged to spend the remainder of the school day sitting outside and enjoying the music. The event is limited to Greenhills students only. Dismissal and student pick-up is at 2:00 on Greenstock day and there is no ASG.

GryphON – Set to debut in fall of 2017, GryphON will replace the school’s Greenhouse content management system and enable more seamless communications about all the things that make Greenhills great–classes, clubs, athletics, music, and much more.

Gryphon Ambassadors  The Gryphon Ambassador program is open to both middle and upper school students. The program trains Greenhills students to assist at open houses and other admission related events. Most students’ main task in the program is to give school tours to prospective students and their families. Upper school students can choose whether they want to be a regular ambassador or a head ambassador, a position that offers students the opportunity to take more responsibility and leadership within the program. Typically, two seniors, one male and one female, fill the role of head ambassadors. All Greenhills students are welcome to join. Alumni often come back to serve as ambassadors as well. Parents interested in helping with admission events can join the parent ambassador program.

Gryphon Den –  The school’s concessions store, sponsored by the athletic booster club. Located at the athletic entrance of the building, students line up after school or during sporting events for a quick candy bar or refreshment. Parent volunteers run the Gryphon Den after school and during athletic events.

Improv Club –  A student comedy club. The club is quite relaxed and only meets periodically throughout the year to practice. The Improv Club is asked to perform at certain events throughout the year; their largest gig is the Chocolate Lounge in January. Membership is exclusive to upper school students.

Main Street –  The longest hallway in the building that connects the two far ends of the school.

McDowell Awards – Writing contest in which students in grades 6-11 may submit writing in a variety of categories. A panel of professionals judges the writing pieces and winners are recognized during an all-school assembly as well as during McDowell Awards Night when families are invited to hear the winners read samples from their writing.

Motor City Saturdays – Optional service days offered to both middle and upper school families throughout the year. Buses depart from Greenhills on select Saturday mornings and drop families off in downtown Detroit for different service events/jobs. The buses drop families back off at Greenhills in the early afternoon.

New Family Orientation and Picnic – The New Family Orientation and Picnic is for all new parents and students, held in mid-May. Parents come to get all the information they need to enroll. New students get their class t-shirts and meet with faculty and current students to begin the orientation process. The picnic, hosted by the Office of Admission, caps the evening.

100 Days Dinner –The 100 Days Dinner is a celebration honoring seniors for their achievements. The first dinners were held 100 days before graduation, and although the school calendar no longer accommodates that — nowadays, the dinner is held less than 100 days before graduation — the original name stuck. The dinner is held off campus and, due to space limitations, is open only to seniors and their parents (sorry, no siblings).

Parent Ambassadors – Current parents volunteer  to assist the admission office during various admission events, including open houses, orientations, and welcome events.

Parent Forums (MS, US, Joint) – (AKA Parent Conversations) –The Greenhills Parent Organization (GPO) sponsors parent forums, also called parent conversations, during the school year. The format varies but often includes one or more guest speakers followed by discussion. Sample topics: college application process, managing student stress, the adolescent brain, and understanding your child’s behavior.

Pasta Dinner: The pasta dinner is sponsored by the sophomore class and is typically held the Friday night before Winter Formal. Members of the sophomore class provide and serve a wide variety of pasta dishes, salads and desserts. All proceeds from the event help fund the sophomores’ future prom. Tickets are available for purchase from any 10th grade student prior to the event and at the door the night of the event. All Greenhills students as well as their families and friends are welcome and encouraged to attend this community event, held in the school dining room.

Peer-to-Peer  Peer-to-Peer’s full name is Peer-to-Peer Depression and Stress Awareness Group. The upper school group’s mission is twofold: to support its members and to take action steps in the community which lead to improved mental health for students. The group meets weekly in the school counselor’s office. Over the years, Peer-to-Peer mentors have received training about anxiety, coping with stress, and depression and suicide prevention so that the group can offer information to students via posters, informational assemblies, and through their relationships with other students.

Robotics  A Greenhills program that exposes students to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) that includes two middle school teams and an upper school team. Every year, the teams build robots to compete in events organized by FIRST robotics. The game changes every year, so every year there is a new problem for students to solve. Students design, build, and maintain the robot. Commitment to the team is similar to being on a varsity athletic team. Students who participate learn how to program, operate tools, construct the robot, and manage the electrical systems.

Rent-A-Junior  Rent-A-Junior is a service program designed to allow the junior class to make a charitable donation to an organization or fund of its choosing as well as defray the cost of prom tickets. Juniors are required to volunteer a set number of hours, typically five to six, throughout the school year. These hours are in addition to the Service Learning requirement. R-A-J job opportunities are often made available by Greenhills administration, faculty, alumni, parents or other community members. A popular R-A-J job is helping with morning supervision of middle school students in the gym on Y Days (late start days). Other examples include yardwork, working holiday parties, and tutoring. Juniors are required to complete their Rent-a-Junior hours, which are tracked by the class officers, in order to receive junior privilege and graduate.

Senior Awards – Awards earned by graduating seniors include the Trustees Award, for a senior who excels in several areas of school life; the Edward M. Read Award, to the senior who has made the most progress while at Greenhills; the J. Anthony Paulus Award, for commitment to excellence in every endeavor; the Head of School Award, for students who have been of the greatest assistance during their senior years; and several more athletic and academic awards.

Senior Class Flag – A flag created by members of the senior class to represent their grade. The flag is displayed on stage at Senior Convocation in September,  the 100 Days Dinner in April, and Commencement in June. Past flags are displayed in frames around the dining room.

Senior Projects  This program allows seniors to go out into the community and explore an area of interest between senior release in May and graduation. Seniors explore their chosen area of interest for two weeks and present what they’ve learned and accomplished to faculty, families, classmates and friends at Senior Project Night in late May. The senior advisory team and the senior class team leaders must approve before a senior is released from school to work on his/her project. Seniors are required to have two sponsors for their project: someone from outside the school and a Greenhills teacher. Seniors must complete the senior project requirements in order to graduate.

Senior Retreat – Different from the senior class trip that takes place in September, the Senior Retreat takes place toward the end of the school year. The seniors go off-campus to a nearby location for the school day and focus on life skills such as filing tax returns. Seniors return to school for dismissal.

Senior/Sixth Grade Buddies  All sixth graders get paired with a senior buddy for the course of the school year. Every Wednesday, during the break between B and C periods, seniors and their sixth grade buddies meet and participate in a variety of activities: pumpkin carving, cookie decorating, obstacle courses, and much more. The senior/sixth grade buddy program allows for the oldest and youngest students in the building to connect on a regular basis.

Special Dress Days – On certain days throughout the year, students are required to dress up in more formal attire. Students typically wear a dress shirt and tie, dress pants, dresses or skirts. T-shirts, denim, and tennis shoes are not allowed on these days. For full details, please see the Family Handbook.

Spirit Week (upper school)  Greenhills spirit week, also known as “Battle of the Grades,” is sponsored by the upper school student council. The first day of spirit week is always “Color Day” and each grade decks itself out in its assigned color: freshmen wear green, sophomores wear purple, juniors wear yellow and seniors wear pink. The last three days of spirit week are themed days chosen by the upper school student council. The student council picks an overall theme for the day, and each grade is assigned a subcategory within that theme. Past themes have included Disney/Pixar films, video games, fairy tales, and phases of life. Grades decorate their forums and dress up to fit their assigned subcategory. Throughout the week, judged contests and events take place during lunch, advisory, and assembly. Grades choose representatives from their class to compete against students from the other grades. Examples of competitions include Chopped (a cook-off), Battle of the Bands, Walk-Off (dance routines), Mario Kart, obstacle courses, magnetic poetry, and strength or trivia contests. Points awarded for decorations and the competitions accumulate throughout the week, and the results are announced the following week at upper school assembly.

Spirit Week (middle school) – The middle school spirit week is similar to that of the upper school, but is planned by the middle school teachers instead of student leaders. Students do not decorate forums, but they do dress up according to their assigned themes. Special events occur everyday at lunch for all to participate. Points are added up throughout the week and results are announced at the end of the week.

Transition Lunch (8th grade) –  A special lunch designed for current eighth graders to talk with upper school students about high school at Greenhills. Lunch is provided by the school.


T-Wall B-Ball –  A fall service day at Greenhills in partnership with the T. Wall Foundation, an organization that provides opportunities for special needs students in and around the greater Southeastern Michigan area. Upper school students can volunteer to be on the T-Wall Service Day Committee and help plan and run the event. On the day of the event, every Greenhills upper school student is assigned two buddies — an adult buddy in the morning, and a child buddy in the afternoon. Students and their buddies walk around the school and participate in various activities: carnival games, music, dancing, arts and crafts, face painting, petting zoo, balloon animals, basketball, and many more. Pizza is served to Greenhills students and their T-Wall buddies during the day. The event is only for upper school students; middle school students leave campus to do service at other sites.

Voodoo – An annual comedy sketch show entirely produced and directed by students. Upper school students participate as writers, directors, and actors. All Greenhills community members are welcome to attend the show. However, the content of the show is generally most appropriate for a high school (and older) audience. Tickets are available for sale at the door the night of the show.

Walk for Water  As an extension of the seventh-grade water curriculum, but with sustainability and service learning at the core, each spring we have “Water Day,” where all seventh-grade students and their advisors take part in the Walk for Water, a four-mile walk from Greenhills stream to Fleming Creek at Parker Mill. Each student carries six liters of water from our stream and then pours it into Fleming Creek. Seventh graders experience what adolescent girls and women do everyday in places like Africa where freshwater is scarce. Following the walk, students collect water quality data with people from the Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC).

Weekly Reminders – An informal email the school sends out each week highlighting some of the events happening around the school.

Welcome Coffees – During the first two mornings of school, coffee and light breakfast munchies are served in the All School Forum just inside the main entrance. Current parents are there to answer questions, and new family directories are available as well.

Winter Formal  Upper school dance held at Greenhills on the Saturday following Spirit Week. The dance is sponsored by the sophomore class. All upper school students are encouraged to attend. Some attend with a date, but many do not. Traditionally, ninth graders gather for an hour before the dance for a light meal or appetizers in the dance studio. Tickets are sold in advance and at the door. Semi-formal attire.

XYZ Days  Different from the regular, daily schedule that has seven class periods of 46 minutes each, the XYZ block allows for a schedule consisting of fewer class periods that are longer in duration. X and Z Day schedules have five class periods of 67 minutes each. Y Days are also known as late start days, which means the school day begins at 9:11 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. There are only four, 67 minute classes on Y Days. The XYZ schedule was designed to allow classes more time for long labs, lengthier discussions, and testing. This schedule also allows students a bit of a breather from daily homework in all classes as each class does not meet everyday during the XYZ block. Faculty use the late start mornings for collaboration and meetings. Typically, there are two XYZ weeks per month.