In the first few weeks of school, everyone is looking for a place to belong. Some are eager to get started, others are apprehensive about new experiences, and there are those students who believe they will never make any friends. As a ninth-grade advisor, I have seen each example firsthand. The beginning of a new adventure can be a little overwhelming, but Dana Hall is the most incredible place to be. In the opening days of the school year, which feel like a whirlwind, all students participate in class retreats, Harbor Cruise (a wonderful event where our entire school leaves for the afternoon and charters a boat out of Boston Harbor), and Convocation (an all-school assembly where we learn the unique song for the year, written by the Director of Choral Music David Coleman).
Dana Hall has many wonderful moments of celebration that brings the community together. Our students naturally come together in the classroom, on the athletic fields, the stage, and the clubs on campus. For me, the highlight of “togetherness” is advisory meetings. In advisory, students are brought together to blend different backgrounds and experiences, as they cross with those who have different interests or passions. Advisory gives students the opportunity to create even more connections in the community by establishing a safe space where students can decompress or refocus. Dana Hall has incorporated advisory meetings into the academic schedule so that we meet as a group twice a week, and meet individually with students weekly. These meetings are important to the overall growth and progress of our students and the health and wellness of the community.
I have an awesome group of ninth-grade advisees. Some girls are new to Dana Hall and some have been here since Middle School. Advisory groups are diverse, with students coming from different countries and backgrounds, and each year these groups never look the same. At the beginning of the school year, our advisory group decided one day to meet in the Dining Hall on Friday morning to have breakfast, and it now has become a tradition. Before November break, we came up with the idea to have an “Advisee-Giving” (not a formal tradition at Dana Hall but a way to bring all of us together over food). We brought in food that we prepared ourselves and shared a meal together in the Student Center. This was at breakfast, so the spread was French toast, eggs, bacon, and fruit salad. We gathered around the table to give thanks to each other and share what we are thankful for. As the school year progressed, we began to incorporate advisory lunches to facilitate additional moments of togetherness, decompression, and refocus. My personal goal is for my advisees to steer the direction of our group meetings and engage in thoughtful conversations with each other. Most of the girls in my advisory group play different sports and have different interests, but they create a shared bond, a place of belonging that celebrates differences and unites us as Dana Hall community members. That is really what makes it so special.