Are school-based community building efforts effective?


Kevin Chen

SPA is heavily focused on community-building, but how it builds it may be subpar.

Even with only a first impression, it can be seen that SPA prides itself on its focus on community. Numerous policies and programs have been enacted by the school in order to build this, from the mandatory activities during advisory to the programs planned by the class leadership council and the administration Of course, those pale in comparison to the grand event, the year end retreat for each grade.

While these programs may be well intentioned, their attempts at building community have two major flaws: a lack of autonomy, which is how much freedom the students have to interact, and, as a result, a lack of authenticity, the lack of genuine connections the activities create. Because of these flaws, the attempts at building community can become no more than an annoyance that is required by the school, something that students would grudgingly do simply to get it over with instead of savoring. This, in turn, highlights the disconnect between the administration and students which counteracts the point of these activities.

In order to improve this, SPA’s community building programs must grant the students autonomy in how they build community. This autonomy does not simply mean having student input, but rather a relaxation of the requirements, such as having scheduled events that do not have as many requirements, or more opportunities during free periods or tutorials for socialization. This will help students interact with their friends and classmates on their own accord, and will accommodate those who are not comfortable with the activity. As well, autonomy for the students will create a sense of authenticity, similar to when students socialize through their own accord and not through obligation, there are more chances for authentic connections to form.