Leadership Initiative Aims to Build Community

By Suzanne Bizot Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

We kicked off a new initiative this week at the High School, called Senior Leadership.  Inspired by a similar program at a fellow Progressive school, Senior Leadership at St. Francis pairs up two advisee groups (so about 20-24 students) during a Flex period for discussions led by the seniors in those groups.  The goals are both to build community among grade levels within the school and to give seniors a venue to step up and learn some communication leadership skills.  Beforehand, Terri White and I met with the seniors twice, talking about group discussion dynamics and brainstorming topics they could use if they liked.  When I asked students after the Senior Leadership meetings how they thought it went, many liked it; some thought it was awkward or – on the seniors’ end – difficult.  I wasn’t unhappy to hear this, because that’s part of the point – these are not skills easily learned, so this is a great opportunity to practice!  I think Senior Leadership a very St. Francis thing to do and look forward to seeing how it builds community as we continue discussions monthly throughout the school year.  

Speaking of fellow Progressive schools, science teacher David Word (along with Goshen science teacher Jason Chlopek) is at the Progressive Education Network bi-annual conference, visiting another Progressive school, attending sessions, and talking with teachers from Progressive schools all over the country.  Can’t wait to hear what he comes back to share!

Dr ThurstoneOn Thursday, we heard from adolescent addiction psychiatrist Dr. Chris Thurstone, who presented a multitude of research on why tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana have detrimental effects on the adolescent brain.  Because some teens acknowledge the truth of this with tobacco and alcohol but not marijuana, he focused on marijuana, detailing studies using rats, with humans, and via MRI of human brains.  He also showed the students statistics from Colorado, where he lives, about the effects of legalizing marijuana for adults and the resultant increasing amount of usage among adolescents.  The presentation was scientific and powerful, and I’m so grateful our students had the opportunity to hear it. Chris made a similar presentation for parents on Thursday evening; thanks to all who joined us for that.  Chris’ web site is www.drthurstone.com and he has many resources available there and invites you to check it out.

Next Wednesday, October 14th, the High School has a 12:15 p.m. dismissal. That is the PSAT day for 10th and 11th graders (we have a college-related morning planned for 12th graders and a field trip for 9th graders).  Students will be finished at 12:15 and then the faculty and staff have professional development for the rest of the afternoon.  

Today marks the end of the quarter, so grades and comments will be out next Friday, October 16th.  You will have already received an email from Danielle to sign up for conferences on Thursday, October 22nd (after our regular school day) and Friday, October 23rd..  It is entirely up to you whether you meet with some or all of your student’s teachers, so please sign up for a schedule that best works for you.