Community within the High School
High School is an intentionally chosen group, all striving not just for completion of the academic components of the Ohio High School benchmarks, but learning to balance the social and emotional demands of teen years. We very much want the High School students to feel they are integral parts of our community, our “tribe.” As Seth Godin writes in Tribes, “Human beings can’t help it: we need to belong. One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people.” In the first days of the new school year, and even through the first quarter, we view a large piece of our work in the HS as developing a sense of like-mindedness and desire to belong within the community.
On the first Friday, the HS picnic served several purposes: students who received end-of-year recognitions were recognized again as a way to publicly state both the HS values and commitment to recognition. Seniors were “inducted” in the senior class, publicly making a pledge to “lead and mentor, work and play, grow up, grow out and graduate,” a pledge which they pursue fulfilling all year. And finally, over grilled food and chips, frisbees and conversational groups, students renewed old friendships and met new community members.
During the IT (Inquiry Team) Friday period, carefully chosen multi-age groups of students develop understanding of one another and team roles. These early understandings help students develop communication tools that will be crucial to completing future work, which shifts into multidisciplinary problem-solving as the school year progress.
Communication is also the focus of Community Gathering at the end of the day. Visitors in the parking lot may hear us singing Happy Birthday to a student, or student leaders of co-curricular groups making announcements.
As Godin writes, “A group only needs two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” As we develop our sense of community, our communication to all members, faculty and student alike, enables the HS tribe to joyfully complete its work.