In the past two weeks Student Life programming of all sorts has been in full swing. Sophomores have been busy in Connections, Seniors worked together during Senior Leadership, and the entire school enjoyed a weekend dedicated to our All School Read. Along with sports games, play tryouts, and Freedom of Speech, Middlesex has been buzzing with activity.
Senior Leadership training continued as all Seniors gathered together for the first time since orientation week to consider the goals that they, as Seniors, have for the schoolyear. After an introduction from the Senior leaders and Mr. Sheff, the students split into small groups to discuss moments where they stepped in to help out another student as well as moments they wish they acted differently in dealing with a challenging situation. After these candid conversations, groups wrote down goals for their class. Deans and student leaders stressed the importance of values in defining goals—to be process rather than result focused. Energetic Seniors then came back together to share the different ideas that each group had.
Over the weekend the Middlesex community enjoyed its annual All School Reading events that centered around the theme “The Ethics of Opportunity.” Advisors and advisees met during the week to consider various works in preparation for the weekend’s discussions. Students and faculty watched a TED talk from Bryan Stevenson, the Director of Equal Justice Initiative, about the role of racial and economic injustice in American prisons. They listened to a Podcast called “Against the Rules” by Michael Lewis about the role of fairness, inequality, and privilege in the NBA and in society at large. Or they read an article in the New York Times by Dr. Anthony Jack, a Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and author of The Privileged Poor about the experience of low-income students in college. The variety of works let students tackle the ideas in new and engaging ways. The exercise also mentally prepared the community for the two speakers, Reverend John Finlay of the Epiphany School and John Hamilton of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund.
In a fully stuffed weekend, perhaps the highlight of the event came Saturday night when the Reverend John Finlay spoke in the Kaye Theatre about the schools he has founded and the role of privilege as it relates to opportunity. Engaging and insightful, Reverend Finlay impressed students and faculty alike in his humor, candor, and devotion to service. When it came time for Q & A, students filled forty-five minutes with pointed and nuanced questions that the Reverend patiently answered. When asked, “How were you able to find so many donors for your schools?” Reverend Finlay replied: “Maybe you forgot my intro—but I went to Harvard. That’s privilege.” The Reverend frequently referenced his privileges along his journey to serve others, citing not only the advantages he has, but also the ways he used those advantages to serve his neighbor. When Ms. Smedley told students that there was time for two more questions, nearly twenty hands shot up in the air.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday Sophomores shared their final night of Connections. The final meeting centered around the sentence “We belong to each other.” With this idea of community in mind, students walked through different scenarios and offered ideas as to how they would hope to handle them. The scenarios ranged from “your roommate recently tore his ACL and is feeling down” to “your friend has begun vaping, what do you do to help?” Always coming back to the core theme of compassion and caring, groups aimed to openly discuss the challenging and complex moments that can occur in high school. The end of Connections also means that soon first year students will begin their journey through the Community Life program in their first meeting of Choices on October 7th.
Finally, a small group of students will begin Drivers’ Ed, which is run through the Christo Driving School. The sessions occur from 9:30 am to 12:45 pm on most Sundays. Students need to be fifteen years and nine months old to begin the course. If your child has not mentioned this but you think they may interested, contact John MacMullen in the Deans’ Office ([email protected]).