On Monday, September 16, our Upper Schoolers celebrated a Day of Community by participating in grade-level activities with their peers and advisors that focused on intellectual, social and emotional learning opportunities beyond the classroom. While some of these programs were led by experts in their field, some of them were organized by our student leaders. All programs, at each grade level, were designed to emphasize our commitment to further living into our Mission and building community.
Brian Coco, Upper School Science Teacher, helped organize the day. He said, “Community Day is important because it allows our students and faculty to engage in non-academic topics which are vital to the growth of our students as humans. All of the activities focused on growing social and emotional skills. Because we set aside a school day for these activities, it communicates that these experiences are just as important as the students’ academic growth.”
“We are committed to intentionally helping our students grow in all facets of life.”
Ninth graders spent the day on campus, participating in a variety of programs. In the morning, the freshmen worked with presenters from the CHADS Coalition for Mental Health on health and wellness programming. In the afternoon, they took a Character Strengths survey, participated in various advisory activities designed to foster bonding with their peers and their advisors, and worked with the MICDS Honor Council. Honor Council student leaders Ceci Cohen ’20 and Matthew Matava ’20 led activities to help promote our MICDS Honor Code and the values the code and the council hold in our community.
Matava explains, “Since the freshmen are new to the Upper School and the Honor Council, my group participated in a mock hearing for the Class of 2023.” He and Jude Sorkin ’20 planned a scenario and wrote a script focused on plagiarism mock hearing designed to familiarize the freshmen class with the rules of the Upper School and how academic dishonesty is unacceptable. Ninth and Tenth Grade Honor Council representatives narrated and played the honor council members. Matava played the student who cheated and Mr. Tourais played a teacher overseeing the hearing. “We wanted the class to participate so we had them talk over the case in their advisories and decide on a punishment. After we heard their decisions, we explained to them what the actual Honor Council would have decided. This activity made the Honor Council more transparent so the students could see how we operate and how we come to our decisions so we can be held accountable,” said Matava.
Cohen, with other Honor Council members and Peer Tutors, worked on teaching collaboration and paraphrasing, two important skills for Upper School academics, to her younger classmates. She said, “We had some fun activities in which the freshmen experienced collaboration in a science lab and paraphrasing activities for the students to practice identifying paraphrased text as well as paraphrasing the content themselves. My goal was that the freshmen would practice both so that they will be ready to do both comfortably in their high school years. Overall, I enjoyed this opportunity to share what I have practiced with younger students, who are in the same position that I was just a few years ago.”
Tenth graders traveled to Camp Wyman in Eureka for a day of team-building activities and high-ropes course challenges. The intention of these activities was to build skills such as leadership, perseverance and communication. In addition, students were grouped with other students with whom they may not interact on a daily basis. Daniel George, Dean of the Class of 2022, said, “It was fun to see students taking on positions of leadership and encouraging others to push past their fear or discomfort. The skilled Camp Wyman team did a great job of keeping things light, fun but also engaging. This really helped us overcome the challenges of the heat.”
Eleventh grade students enjoyed a variety of tours in and around St. Louis, experiences that were directly tied to the content that they are covering in their History of St. Louis class. Click here to read more about their day.
In the morning, 12th grade students traveled off-campus to participate in community service projects. Each senior advisory determined which organization they wanted to support. Scott Small, Head of the Upper School, said, “I was thrilled to see tired, but happy, seniors stop by the lunchroom after returning from service trips. It was a great vibe and testament to the planning that senior advisories did to coordinate those experiences!” In the afternoon, the seniors spent time addressing the growing epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses. They watched a documentary and then participated in small group discussions. Annie Knapp, Upper School Science Teacher and Advisor, said, “The afternoon went well with our discussion. Students asked really great, probing questions.”
The day was a great example of how MICDS education goes beyond the classroom and the textbook, offering students new opportunities to connect with each other and with their wider community.