High School Culture

Our High School students at their recent all-day retreat

Throughout our history, we have worked to develop healthy student learners. In the last number of years, a great deal of this work has involved trying to help balance work and life of students with intentional planning of tests and projects, monitoring workloads via homerooms, implementing Google apps to keep school and home connected, and giving students some control of their learning via Phenomenal Fridays and Marvelous Mondays. All of these efforts have met with some measure of success, though there is plenty of tweaking to be done to make them more effective.

To a degree, some of this operates under the mantra- If we can perfect the process, we can guarantee the desired outcome. But our students are not automatons, they are young people with the ability to believe in the process or not, to participate in the community or not. The problem I see is an affective element missing to help glue the students to each other. Our education ecosystem only works when there is a community holding all the disparate pieces together.

Over the years, we have relied on the teachers to be that glue, yet our busyness has relegated this “stickiness” to a series of valuable but disconnected events like JSB, retreat, and Student Council activities. Even our daily class schedules breed a sense of disconnectedness as the students move from one room to another, managed by another teacher with another set of rules to facilitate another learning objective. Finally, social media and technology have redefined what it means to be connected. Digital connections are only helpful to the extent that they build upon our face-to-face connections.

Our community is bounded by the liturgies we follow. Existing and ancient liturgies ground us and remind us of who we are. But sometimes new challenges call for new liturgies. We need help forming new liturgies for new generations of students. Our goal is to infuse the existing components of our ecosystem with new liturgies in order to help our students feel connected, supported, and involved in the school’s community while utilizing the unique gifts and talents God has given to them.

To accomplish this goal, we need help beyond our current staff. We have asked Pastor Jim Fox to research how we can get from where we are now to where we want to be. While Jim is not a member of our staff, he is a familiar face on our campus and to our students. His experience as a church planter, a pastor, and youth pastor lend a unique perspective to maintaining and growing faith based communities. Furthermore, Jim understands the uniqueness of our Mission and perspective and can articulate that in a new “voice” for our parent and student community.

Jim will be on campus this fall conducting research and interviews, and crafting a report for the school board in November. This would allow us to consider any changes within discussions for the 2018-19 school year. We look forward to reading his recommendations for our community as we seek to grow and maintain healthy connections with one another.

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