At the end of the summer, over 80 sophomores, juniors and seniors gathered on Teel Campus for a three-day Leadership Retreat. The goal of the three days? To choose an adaptive challenge for the entire Upper School to work toward throughout the year. This year the theme is "Be There," a call for every student to take an active part in shaping our school community.
What is the Leadership Retreat?
The retreat involves a series of discussions and workshops on effective leadership; some are student-led and some are led by faculty. It's also an opportunity for our students to get to know each other better and develop relationships outside of their normal circles. At the end of the retreat they decide on an adaptive challenge for the year. Although students in elected and club leadership positions are expected to attend, the retreat is open to all students. It’s a voluntary forum where any interested student can participate.
The retreat begins Thursday evening with dinner organized by Upper School prefects followed by an opening ceremony with remarks from Head of School Mr. Doug Lagarde and Upper School Dean of Students Mr. Marc Buckley. Over the next two days our students brainstorm ideas, join together to share, and diverge again to even further develop those initial ideas.
“The retreat offers our students a unique opportunity to learn valuable leadership and organizational skills in an engaging environment where they assess the strengths and challenges of our community and set out to improve it through the selection of an adaptive challenge or goal that they set for themselves. The kids feed off of the energy of faculty and each other and we all leave the three days feeling excited about the beginning of the school year.” — Upper School Dean of Students Mr. Marc Buckley
What is an Adaptive Challenge?
An adaptive challenge is an open-ended, long-term goal that can be integrated into all aspects of life in the Upper School. The challenge informs student council and club activities during the year. Past challenges include:
Taking the Initiative
This Year, Be There
Our students want to create the best experience they can for everyone in the Upper School. They want to support each other in clubs and sports, be there emotionally for their peers, and be aware of what’s going on around them. They want to be upstanders rather than bystanders. They understand that they have the power to build their own community and they embrace it.
The First of Many Steps
The three-day retreat is only the first step in working toward this year’s adaptive challenge. The group meets twice more, once in the fall and once in the winter, to make plans, check-in, and talk about what’s worked and what hasn’t. The whole experience helps our students take ownership over their time at Severn. They learn to work toward a large common goal with many moving parts. They learn to value diverse perspectives and make positive change in their own lives and the lives of those around them.