One of the most rewarding times of the week at OA is our Monday Community Meeting. It is a time when all the students and faculty can gather for a few hours and spend some important time together, whether that be working through some community issues or doing an activity that brings us closer together. Every week a different advisory group facilitates the meeting, and different students sign up to present a community issue.
Last week we had a great Community Meeting that reminded me why this is such a special activity at OA. Rodrigo’s Advisory group facilitated, and lots of students brought up really engaging issues. Toprak was our facilitator, and Miles called on students to speak. First Lily brought up the fact that the Den was a mess, and the students figured out a plan on how to make sure it was cleaned each day. Then Avery and Elsa brought up a similar situation in the mudroom, which we decided could benefit from a shelf above the hooks to put books on so they wouldn’t have to rest on the floor. Patrick then revisited the idea of students earning responsibility of lighting the woodstoves, and a method was devised by the community to enable students to be “checked off” to light woodstoves once they showed a staff person their fire-building competency.
A rousing discussion was then had about whether or not we should watch the Olympics. Some students were against it, saying that it took us away from the “simple living” that everyone signed up for, while others were for it, arguing that it was a rare event that would be fun to share as a community. After much discussion (that spilled over into Thursday’s Student Meeting during lunch), the community decided to hold their own Olympic Games during Outdoor Education time, while also watching a bit of the Olympics on Saturday night.
Jake then brought up the idea of holding a chess tournament, which was very well-received, and Isa talked about how students need to be sure not to leave clean-up until everyone was finished. In the middle of all these topics, we took a moment to draw our Giving Day names, which was incredibly exciting for everyone! By the end of the meeting, we had worked through so many community issues with great success and efficiency.
It reminded me why I love this school, and how important it is to give students ownership in the inner-workings of living in a community. Asking a group of people to live together 24/7 is not an easy thing to do, but I believe, especially after this meeting, that the students are starting to realize that working through conflict and challenges can be incredibly rewarding. As they learn to address their problems head-on, they are smoothing out the rest of their semester experience, and learning incredibly important life skills. Just another great day of school at the Outdoor Academy!
Susan Tinsley Daily
Dean of Students