Defining Ourselves through Our Community

It’s been a great first two weeks of the school year. A few highlights:  

  • A well received “Grade 8 Welcome” on the first day of school;
  • Grade wide assemblies;
  • Fall sports, Volleyball, soccer, rugby, cross-country and field hockey have begun;
  • Grade 11 student Tasha Johal will have a movie review published in the October 5th edition of Youthink Magazine;
  • Grade 8 student, Angie Dhillon, received the first J.O.B. card of the year;
  • The scheduled opening of the Galileo Room (Student Lounge).  

Stepping back and reviewing our first two weeks together, I can’t but help and think about the power of our community, the hope that flows through it and the inherent goodness within all of our staff and students.  As part of my reflection, I am drawn to the introduction of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers.  Gladwell writes about the relative good health of an Italian-American community in Pennsylvania and asks us to think about their positive medical data in terms of community.  He writes:

 “[the medical community] wouldn’t be able to understand why someone was healthy if all they did was think about an individual’s personal choices or actions in isolation.  They had to look beyond the individual.  They had to understand the culture he or she was a part of, and who their friends and families were, and what town their families came from. They had to appreciate the idea that the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.” 

Defining who we are is in large part determined by the community that surrounds us.  This idea served as the foundation beneath the positive and inspiring grade wide assemblies that were held this past week.  Students understood and appreciated the message that individual achievements would always be recognized but that the greater honour came in celebrating the community that continues to provide inspiration and sustain all forms of excellence.  

The article I am passing on to you this week, Eric Schap’s, “Creating a School Community,”   reinforces our belief in the benefits of building a strong sense of community.  The article lists “community-building approaches” that we already engage in at John Oliver (as with most examples of “best practice,” we’re ahead of the curve!).  Schap succinctly lists the benefits of a strong school community: academic motivation; ethical and altruistic behaviour; the development of social and emotional competencies; a decrease in problem behaviours. 

 Creating a School Community – Eric Schap

Thank you for maintaining our sense of community and in doing so providing our students with the opportunities to excel academically and demonstrate their commitment to John Oliver’s norms, values and goals. 

Have a nice weekend.