Forging Their Own Paths

Building a cohesive community takes time, work, and the participation of all its members. In the Upper School, two separate but related programs lay the foundations of friendship, reflection, and leadership that prepare students for success in the year ahead. Each year, 5th-7th grade students travel to YMCA Camp Speers for an overnight excursion that includes activities, games, and team-building exercises. It is a chance for classmates and faculty advisors to strenghten their bonds and learn more about each other outside of the classroom.

Back at school, 8th grade students took part in a two-day Leadership Lab. The focus was initially on the individual: students worked on their high school essays, participated in mock interviews with faculty and staff, and reflected on what they think it means to be leader. For every student, applying to high school and choosing the one that is the best fit for them requires a healthy amount of self-confidence. However, discussions about individual leadership always came back to the collective, be it about a team captain encouraging their team, or the students' service work as LS mentors or school ambassadors. The 8th grade program was capped with their own team-building visit to a rock climbing gym. As Dr. Deitch wrote in his summer letter to parents: "Students must find the paths that serve them, they must seek out the strategies that work, and find success in their own accomplishments, talents, and pace." A collaborative community gives students the structure and opportunity to grow in their own ways. 

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