Talking is encouraged during Middle School Chapel, that is on every 2nd day of the academic rotation when students meet for a new program called Advisory Chapel.
"The heart and soul of Middle School is our Advisory program," explained Head of Middle School Imana Legette. "The goal is to better connect Chapel to the Stripes and Advisory."
Fourteen Middle School faculty members worked over the summer to restructure the advisory period.
"Our advisory program focuses on building relationships and building confidence in our advisees. The opening weeks of school are a crucial part of starting to develop a robust and resilient community," said Ms. Legette. "These ideologies are at the core of our division. The Middle School years are a time of tremendous growth and independence among our students."
Math teacher Allison Schultz was on the team that worked on restructuring advisory time. "Our goal was to create an intentional time to have deep discussions in advisory so that we could dig into the meaning behind our Stripes and help the students with the important concepts of identity, inclusion, and appreciation of differences."
Middle School Chaplain John Daniels kicked off the first Advisory Chapel of the year on Tuesday, Sept. 21. The theme focused on the September Stripe of the Month- Respect. "Today we are going to ask you who is deserving of respect," said Chaplain Daniels.
Sixth-grade students sat with their Advisory classmates in Chapel, while others participated from classrooms via livestream. To get things started, Chaplain Daniels posed some fun questions. "Who has the smallest shoe size in your Advisory? Who is the fastest runner?" Students enthusiastically discussed each question. "Who would you say has the tallest pinky finger?"
The discussion moved to a quiet murmur, when Chaplain Daniel asked, "When you know that someone is really good at something, do you automatically show them respect based on what they can do?"
"You can't have a good relationship with someone if you are missing love or respect," shared 6th grader Audrey. "You need both to have a good relationship."
The protocol and guidelines for Advisory Chapel include: Staying engaged and curious, speaking from the "I" perspective, maintaining confidentiality, and expecting and accepting a lack of closure. "We will not solve all problems today, that is for sure," said Chaplain Daniels. "And we may ask more questions than we answer."
Some other questions Chaplain Daniel asked students to consider were, "Can you love someone and not respect them, or respect someone and not love them?"
"When we take a look at what God said about treating others with respect, we learn that God wants everyone to treat each other with respect no matter who they are," reflected Chaplain Daniels. "So what if we respect each other simply based on the fact that we are all human beings. When we respect each other, we honor God and one another."
"The feedback from the teachers so far has been excellent. They really appreciate having a more intentionally-planned advisory period," said Mrs. Schultz. "We are spending September getting to know the students the best that we can. Tuesday's conversations got to a deeper level than we often get to throughout the entire year. Having the plan ready to go really helps teachers focus on the students."
"The conversations were thoughtful, meaningful, and intentional. This is what Middle School is all about!" said Ms. Legette.