Building Community Inside & Out

Phew! I don’t know about you, but this past week has been exhausting!  Don’t get me wrong, the homecoming celebrations all week long are terrific ways of celebrating our shared culture! We have fun during school, we celebrate our Golden Mustangs, and we induct new members into our athletic hall of fame.  Various classes hold reunion events, we gather for a Friday night football game, and we bring our pets for the Blessing of the Animals on Saturday.  We crown our homecoming royalty and, in the Upper School, we celebrate the end of the week with the homecoming dance.  Like I said . . . Phew!

Each of these events is a tradition with deep roots in our community, and each plays a role in the important work of making our history our present and of developing our shared culture.  All of that being said, we would be remiss if we didn’t also acknowledge another critical tradition in the life of our school that occurred this past week.

Last Wednesday marked the first time that our Upper School students visited their community partnership sites this year.  That morning, almost the entire Upper School - over 500 students and faculty - boarded school buses and headed to over 40 different community partnership sites around the Twin Cities.  While there, our students spent about an hour with our partners, learning about the mission of their organizations, and working alongside their clients and staff.  The feat of embedding this many individuals in that many locations around our region is truly remarkable.  Even more noteworthy is the fact that last weeks’ visit wasn’t an isolated event, but rather the first of 23 visits to our partners that we will make this year.  I am always grateful that our students have the opportunity to learn outside of our walls in this way.

At Breck, tireless effort goes into the creation of a positive school culture within our walls.  But if our culture and our values remain stuck inside our building, if we become too insular, what’s the point?  Each week, on Wednesday, we ask our students to actively engage with an element of the Twin Cities culture that lies beyond our campus.  We deliberately erode the “Breck Bubble,” and ask our students to look outside of themselves and their immediate environment.  This is a part of Breck’s curriculum of which I’m incredibly proud, and it’s an element of our school that sets us apart.  It is also one of the most tangible examples of our mission in action.  Breck School’s mission is to prepare each student for a college whose culture is compatible with the individual’s needs, interests and abilities; help develop each student’s unique talents and potential to excel by nurturing independence and self-worth; and instill in each student a deep sense of social responsibility.   Our community partnership program is directly aimed at that third element of our mission, and if this past week’s work by our students is any indication, we’re well on our way.

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