From the desk of Dr. Stan Ward, Director of Campus Life & Ministry:
A LOOK BACK
Brook Hill’s campus life and ministry program includes a number of long-time traditions begun by our previous campus life directors, Brandon Watson and Shawn Rhoads. These traditions include student organizations, prefect opportunities, advisory group activities, service projects, chapel, spiritual emphasis week, blood drives, and social dances.
A LOOK NOW
As with just about any program, activities and events begin to morph over time and as leadership changes. Here’s what some of those traditions look like now in their current form:
- Reorientation Week. We start our academic year with a half-week of school to introduce new students and re-introduce returning students to school life. This year we emphasized grade-level/advisory group activities and school spirit.
- Campus Life Block. One of the challenges of a school that hosts both day and boarding students from a variety of locations is finding time for students to engage in co-curricular activities. It’s difficult to bring students back to campus after school, especially considering how many of our students are involved in after-school athletics and need to get home to do homework. Our solution was to create a daily scheduled time for clubs, homeroom meetings, class meetings, chapel, small groups, and even time to simply hang out.
- Student-Initiated Clubs. This year’s campus life block created designated time for student clubs. At the beginning of the year, students created their own clubs, applied for school approval, and found teacher sponsors. This process allowed them to benefit from both the social benefits of being part of a club and the personal leadership development created by organizing a club.
- More and Smaller Advisory Groups. As we grow larger we also have to grow smaller. This year we had the most advisory groups we’ve ever had, with a better faculty-to-student ratio than the previous few years. Besides small groups that reflect on our chapel programs, advisory groups do service projects together and participate in a talent show as part of homecoming week.
- Fall Leadership Retreat. The retreat introduces students to some basic leadership skills and gives them time to plan activities. This year we added an introduction to the devotional life and provided students with tools for daily devotions and personal scripture memory.
- Expanded Student Council. Besides grade level representatives, we also include specific representatives for Fine Arts, Athletics, and Boarding. This year’s student council also did great work sponsoring our first ever Winter Formal. For 2014, we added two new officer positions: social chair and service chair. Our social chair will help us with social events like the Homecoming Dance and Winter Formal. Our service chair will help with school wide service projects, like last year’s Operation Christmas Child partnership with Samaritan’s Purse.
- MS Social Events. We now have three MS specific social events: two in the fall and one in the spring. In the fall we had a middle school movie night and a fall field night. In the spring we had a middle school mystery night.
- Resurrection Week. Over the years we have called the week before Easter by different titles, including “Spiritual Emphasis Week” and “OASIS week.” The week’s current name focuses on the holiday it precedes. Resurrection Week allows us to hear from specific guy and girl speakers who address middle school and high school specific groups.
- Junior-Senior Prom. When our school was smaller, it made sense to encourage all our high school students to attend prom, but as we grew, we found that juniors and seniors didn’t enjoy prom as much—partly because they had already been the previous two years and partly because of the number of underclassmen present. In order to make prom something our upperclassmen could really enjoy, we have limited attendance to juniors and seniors and their dates.
A LOOK FORWARD
Campus life and ministry is organic. We tweak our program yearly, trying to respond to student needs and interests. Next year’s program will be determined by the success of this year’s events, activities, and service projects. Whatever may change, we will continue to emphasize student development through small group ministry and student leadership training.