There is a clear sense of renewal associated with the start of each school year. Returning students, with the knowledge of school routines, traditions, and culture ascend to a new grade and discover the increasing sense of responsibility and opportunity provided by the departure of their graduated friends. New students arrive from across the globe with preconceived notions of what life might be like at New Hampton School, along with an appropriate dose of uncertainty and excitement.
Programs designed to orient and re-orient community members are buoyed by the energy of a new year; a fresh start, a continuation of a journey, a reinventing of one’s self. While adults work to drive programs from behind, it is the returning students who bear the responsibility for setting the tone and providing education for our new community members regarding the New Hampton way.
Introducing a Theme
I have found that an annual school theme assists students in the important task of establishing a culture. A little over a year ago, as I began my tenure at New Hampton, I wanted to establish a theme that spoke to my core values and that would allow the community to unite around a common language. With the support of my administrative team, we began the 2016-2017 school year guided by the theme Better Together, which emphasized the shared responsibility we have to each other and our school.
Watching the community absorb this theme into the fabric of the community was remarkable, as students, unprompted by adults, referenced Better Together at school meeting presentations, informal gatherings, and yearly festivities.
Selecting a school theme for the 2017-2018 year empowered students to find their voices. Student Council led the way with a brainstorming session and collaboration with an administrative team to put forward a narrow set of choices on which the community could vote.
As we begin another school year, we embrace our new theme, Rise Up. The theme was developed through a collaborative process that has given responsibility to the student body to own, define, and shepherd this new motto. Rise Up leaves itself open to many different interpretations, which allows a great opportunity for our students, as a collective group and as individuals. There has been no shortage of world and community events that call upon us to take action and consider the world in which we live, the plight of others, and challenges for which we can Rise Up. In the same moment, as our students learn and grow, they each face their own set of goals allowing for endless opportunities to Rise Up among their peers, in our community, and in the world.
In this new year, we are excited for the Rise Up moments that will define our time together and leave a legacy to look back on.