By Bret Barnett
Dean of Campus Affairs
As the new school year comes into full tilt, I must say that I have been most inspired by our student leadership team. They have positively influenced our community in countless ways – to think it is only the beginning of October!
The contributions of the student leaders started the week before school began when we took our annual pilgrimage to Camp Merrowvista in Tuftonboro for leadership training. Here the prefects, proctors, Dean’s Council and PEEPS gathered to prepare for new student orientation and to plan for the year. With limited phone service and a distinct outdoorsy feel, leadership training featured team building through high and low ropes courses as well as via team challenges. We also had the opportunity to meet with dorm parents, team leaders and administrators. They came out to update students on changes and to plan for the year. Students and teachers participated in bonding activities. One highlight: Head of School Craig Gemmell dancing with student leaders at dinner as part of a song challenge tradition. To say the passion and enthusiasm of our student leaders throughout camp was palpable would be an understatement.
There was a distinct spike in unbridled energy out at camp on Thursday night when freshmen Team Leader Laura Cooper came out to reminisce with the student leader lifers, recalling team chants and preparing them for the revamped Freshmen Mentoring Program. The energy even dwarfed the amount exuded when students figured out the wireless password. This year we further bolstered our Lifer Program with the attachment of this mentoring piece. The first lifer event took place during the second week of school. Student leaders gathered in the boathouse with the freshmen class. Mentors and mentees met for the first time, shared first week experiences, alleviated angst and made ice cream sundaes together. They also exchanged contact information in order to continue the bond until the next formal event before exams ensue in November.
A second group of leaders took to the Estabrook the following evening to welcome in our new sophomores. At the first annual Pizza Mingle, new sophomores met with their mentors for the school year – all student leaders who had started their time at Brewster as sophomores. While there was less angst to relieve than during the freshmen event, the conversation continued flowing for nearly an hour – perhaps due to the fact that they were excused from study hall. Nevertheless, the student leadership team worked hard to make the new sophomores feel supported at their home away from home.
Student leaders have also stepped up in innumerable ways this past month. The prefects greeted all of our new families during registration and helped cart off books and packages to various dorms. They’ve been working with their academic teams to craft charters and have spearheaded our upcoming fall spirit event. Proctors helped students move in and have been a huge help in creating dorm cultures that are inclusive and accepting. The PEEPS have been employed to helped coach students through some brief bouts of homesickness. And the Dean’s Council met with students on their teams to go over school rules. Our student leaders have gone above and beyond for the past month. I am so proud of them and look forward to an outstanding school year with their continued leadership! A special thank you to those families who reached out to various adults in our community to point out the impact of our leadership team during the first few weeks of the school year.