Upper School Enrichment 101

As directed by the 2015 Strategic Plan, at MICDS we intentionally help our children grow in four areas: academics, character and leadership, equity and inclusion, and wellness and relationships. Thus, our focus as a School is more than just helping our children become smarter students. The intentional purpose of helping our children grow in these areas is also supported by our Mission statement. To help support the challenge by our Strategic Plan and our Mission, the Upper School has developed an Enrichment Program. The Upper School Enrichment program is a four-year commitment to providing students with the experiences and tools for becoming responsible young adults capable of thinking critically, acting honorably and leading and serving others. To implement the Enrichment program and its events, we use a 45-minute period on Day 3 of the school cycle. To provide consistent structure for students during Enrichment, the Enrichment Program uses the existing Advisory Program. Thus, students work with teachers and their advisory to engage in the programming.

With a focus on topics relating to leadership, ethics, health, inclusion and service, students engage in discussions, complete activities and listen to guest speakers. The following are the five standards that are embedded into our discussions, activities and guest-speaker presentations:

1. Leadership

Definition—taking the initiative to make a positive difference for self and others

Essential Question—What are you doing to bring positive change (small or large) to yourself and others?

Mastery of standard—Student will intuitively take the initiative to help make positive difference for self and others

2. Respect

Definition—treating others and self in a manner which accepts differences and values the worth of the individual(s)

Essential Question—What are you doing to accept others and to value the worth of each individual including yourself?

Mastery of standard—Student consistently demonstrates sensitivity, honesty, ethical consideration and respect for the multitude of cultures, languages, genders, socio-economic statuses and exceptionalities in our community

3. Perseverance

Definition—continuing to fulfill responsibilities and to pursue goals despite challenges and not choosing to take the easy way out

Essential Question—What actions are you taking to overcome the challenges that arise on a daily basis?

Mastery of standard—Student uses routines, behaviors and mental processes to stay positive in the face of challenges AND cycles through varied resources and multiple solutions until forward progress is achieved

4. Service

Definition—taking time to provide sincere assistance  

Essential Question—What consistent effort are you making to help provide assistance?

Mastery of standard—Student exhibits sincere and authentic engagement with service opportunities, proactively initiates and completes tasks with minimal instruction from others

5. Wellness

Definition—making personal decisions which support a positive physical, mental, emotional, and social well being

Essential Question—How are the decisions you are making affecting the quality of your personal life?

Mastery of standard—Student clearly demonstrates the ability to make positive personal choices because she/he considers the outcome of a behavior before engaging in the behavior and she/he learns from previous experiences

Even though the Enrichment program focuses on these five standards of leadership, ethics, health, inclusion and service, each grade level has a different theme/emphasis. For the Freshmen and Sophomores, the Enrichment theme is “Build Community and Healthy Relationships.” To support this theme, students engage in a variety of team-building activities with their advisory.  Each of these team-building activities intentionally work on the following: encouraging students to take on small leadership roles (having the courage to speak up), strengthening collaboration and communication skills, learning how to persevere despite differences and/or failures and building positive relationships with peers.

To help lead these team-building activities, members of the Senior Leadership Group (SLG), who are assigned to work with a Freshman or Sophomore advisory all school year, help lead students through various Enrichment activities and discussions. This provides the underclassmen a Senior advocate while it provides the Seniors significant leadership opportunities.

In addition to these team-building activities, Freshmen and Sophomores also listen to expert speakers who make presentations on important health topics such as healthy and unhealthy relationships, mental health (stress and anxiety), human reproduction, sexual harassment (sophomores only), alcohol, eating disorders/body image and tobacco and electronic cigarettes (vaping). Finally, these two grade levels engage in conversations that promote the student-driven philosophy of “converse to comprehend, not to convince.”  Through this philosophy, we encourage students to share their perspectives without the intention of forcing others to hold the same perspective.

At the Junior level, the Enrichment theme shifts to “Service Learning and Leadership”.  Although Juniors will still engage in a few team-building activities and will listen to presentations over health topics such as drugs, sexual assault, and mental health (depression), Juniors spend a majority of their Enrichment time working on building their advisory service-learning project, a project that helps improve the community.

For Seniors, the Enrichment theme evolves into “Community Engagement through Leadership”.  At the beginning of the school year, Seniors are given an opportunity to choose topics within the Enrichment theme they want to learn more about. We use this list to construct the Enrichment presentations and activities for the second trimester. In addition to these events, Seniors take part in several community service opportunities such as the building of hygiene kits for those who were victims of hurricane Florence. During the year, students also hear Lisa Lyle and Scott Small make presentations on leadership.

The MICDS Upper School Enrichment program creates intentional opportunities to help our students grow in the areas of leadership, ethics, health, inclusion and service. As we focus on these topics, our students positively develop in the areas of leadership, respect, perseverance, service and wellness.