The Lower School Student Council addressed the students this morning in an effort to encourage campus cleanliness as a way to reopen the former breakfast privilege recently rescinded due to student dining hall messiness, among other examples of lethargy. The faculty and administration witnessed the forum, and the students invited the adults' contributions to the conversation.
The agreement reached between the faculty/administration and the students concluded that the shared goal of personal responsibility for trash and dining hall refuse combined with a 50% reduction in the number of students currently on the Progress Report D/F list by quarter's end will re-open the dining hall for breakfast.
Mutual respect between the students and the faculty/administration is a cherished cultural value of MUS, and it begins with each individual within our community exercising his own personal responsibility while embracing accountability for his own behavior. That personal responsibility leads to a corporate responsibility, and when there is a breakdown of responsibility within too many individuals, privileges are shelved for the community.
We hope that today's reminder of the close correlation between our responsibilities and our privileges sinks in so that the boys react positively and choose to respond to the loss of their desired breakfast feast with a cleaner campus and improved academics as a means to regain something that too many took for granted. Maybe the long-term lesson will serve them in their years both at MUS and in future.
"Get used to homework, boys," we should be telling the students. It's likely to be like this for the rest of their lives, both in and out of their formal schooling.
Some advice from those on the front lines as compiled here by New York Times correspondent, Shaila Dewan:
The need to constantly adapt is the new reality for many workers, well beyond the information technology business. Car mechanics, librarians, doctors, Hollywood special effects designers — virtually everyone whose job is touched by computing — are being forced to find new, more efficient ways to learn as retooling becomes increasingly important not just to change careers, but simply to stay competitive on their chosen path.
Going back to school for months or years is not realistic for many workers, who are often left to figure out for themselves what new skills will make them more valuable, or just keep them from obsolescence. In their quest to occupy a valuable niche, they are turning to bite-size instructional videos, peer-to-peer forums and virtual college courses.
The good news for our students now is that there is ample time built into the daily schedule at school for all boys to be able to complete assignments and to study while they are on campus. The most efficient use of their time in these allocated study halls, free periods, and after school sessions will help create room for their freedom and enjoyment away from the books. Sounds obvious, but not all of these guys accept responsibility for their obligations with equal zeal. Those who do have less stress, are happier, and enjoy the breadth of the dynamic school culture. Those who don't simply frustrate themselves while they drive their parents up the wall.
The point to this article is that study habits formed now, whatever those habits may be, will correlate closely with various levels of success later. Those study habits will need to sharpen for years to come. Pretty straight up. Therefore, our suggestion is that parents and teachers should lay out clear non-negotiable and negotiable expectations, aiming to be as clear and consistent as possible while allowing for each boy's intrinsic motivation to take root as he responds to the results of his actions.
If he fails, we're all here to help him learn from what he did wrong. No need to panic. But we must allow him the opportunity to do for himself as his maturity progresses lest he be enabled and coddled into an arrested development contributing to his significant disadvantage and his inevitable resentment towards those who failed to confront his understandable resistance to our collective love and concern.
A student's t-shirt carries an encouraging mnemonic device that our boys can carry forward from today's Lower School T.C.B. exercise during this morning's Upper School pep rally.
Building upon the spirit of this encouraging print, we saw an opportunity to intervene with the students' best interests in mind. Seeing that an inordinate amount of boys were currently on the short side of demonstrating their preparedness for daily assignments and their accountability toward same, we initiated some guidance energized by our zeal to support the school's mission.
We held review sessions in numerous subjects in lieu of turning a blind eye to various instances of obvious malaise. The initial reports from faculty who chose to hold academic sessions and forgo the fun pep rally are positive as the attending students addressed lingering issues that were holding them back from achieving their best efforts and results.
No, it's not fun missing pep rallies, but school isn't always fun. It's often hard work, very hard work. More, the work can become unnecessarily more difficult when students fail to address their responsibilities. Not only does it hurt the individual, but also it also holds the community back. Individual and group, self-monitoring and corporate citizenship... both must prosper in order for a community to advance toward being a better social order for everyone.
Two prevailing topics helped fuel today's exercise. One, maintaining the school profile demands a unique feeding system of students demonstrating high standards that begins before our students are ever enrolled here. In turn, we enroll capable students of above-average abilities who apply to MUS from a wide variety of area schools, students who expect college-prep standards. The Lower School applies/imposes/supports those elevated standards, building upon good foundations, in anticipation of more mature and intrinsic motivations blossoming in the Upper School. It's all connected.
Two, annual college acceptances being 100% of every MUS graduating class is expected. A lot can be taken for granted in that stat, and we all know a heck of a lot of effort gets applied from various fronts over the years in order to see that each transcript here ends being the best that it can be. But then reality kicks in within four to five years: jobs. With wage statistics for young college grads being as grim as they are, our students, some ten-fifteen years removed from their first post-college paycheck, have cause for alarm. It's an uncertain world, and competition will continue to increase for the better jobs available. Solid academics, good habits, and strong moral character will become practical advantages in the marketplace. In other words, they have good reason to "turn the page" class by class, day by day, as they aim high to acquire their lofty expectations by putting their noses down in the dailies.
Basketball Homecoming pep rally should be a lot more fun with all of us in attendance, supporting the team after our priority of work is done.
Eighth-grader Andrew Douglass celebrates Cultural Heritage Day during MUS Homecoming week as he dons the garb of a Roman citizen encircling the Mediterranean basin circa the first century AD, or the first century of "The Common Era," for those who prefer.
"Well, the t-shirt is not authentic to the period," concedes Douglass, "and that threw some of my classmates for a loop, understandably. They confused me for a Pentecostal cheerleader, not that there's anything wrong with it."
Next week is Homecoming Week, and while that does not bode for much with Lower Schoolers, we do celebrate the spirit of the week with opportunities to show school zeal by allowing/encouraging the boys to dress up in crazy outfits. Go figure.
Monday is Pajama Day (Long weekend, we understand. Just stay alert during class.)
Tuesday: Cultural Heritage Day (Be proud of your roots. Dress accordingly.)
...just for some examples.
Wednesday: Jersey Day (Shirts, hair jell required; no bikinis.)
Jersey Day. Shorts allowed this day.
Thursday is the Official 2012 M.U.S. Homecoming T-Shirt Day ($10.00, on sale during the week), but regular school long pants and school shoes required.