In 2009 when the Conserve School Trustees created the mission, vision and program description for the then new Conserve School semester, they included the following words:
Conserve School students become part of a community that heightens their sense of identity and self-worth and imparts the confidence they need to go forward and make a difference, not only as stewards of the environment, but also as stewards of their own destinies. ~from the Conserve School Program Description
Students and alums frequently mention the community that develops on campus as one of the top highlights of their Conserve School experience. However, I know that like all parts of the Conserve School experience, there is always room for improvement. This year we have implemented a number of enhancements to the program in response to feedback from students, parents and staff.
This year we have changed how we house students. This semester we have limited houses to no more than 28 students, rather than the previous maximum of 38. Having fewer students in each house allows the staff on duty to provide more individual attention and support. This semester students are living in Donahue, Elaine and James houses.
Cooking and food are an important part of any community. This semester we are inviting students into the Lowenstine Academic Building dining room kitchen in the afternoon to help prepare dinner if they would like or to use the equipment and supplies to bake treats for the houses. (A big thanks to Low from CS16 for helping make this a reality.) We have also created a kitchen area in the Lowenwood Recreation Center so that cooking can be more of a communal and social activity.
We know that living away from home for an extended period can be challenging and at times, those challenges can feel overwhelming. This semester we have dedicated more time in the weekly schedule to address the predictable challenges through our Community Life Curriculum. On Tuesday mornings students attend Student Life Seminar where students meet in small groups. Seminars cover a range of topics including: social media use, home sickness cures, civil discourse about challenging topics, diversity, equity and inclusion. Wednesday afternoons include Student Life Enrichment with similar topics addressed in a larger group format.
Conserve School has also welcomed adjunct school social worker, Jamie Fiorucci to its staff to help support individual students, teach portions of the Community Life Curriculum, and to offer optional afterschool activities on a range of health and wellness topics. I appreciate the insight provided by CS16 students and alums regarding the importance of adding a person like Ms. Fiorucci to our staff. Additionally, we have expanded the time available to the Director of Student Support, Phil DeLong by separating the positions of Director of Student Support and Director of Student Enrollment. Stephanie Saniter is now the Director of Student Enrollment.
I am confident that these changes and additions, coupled with Conserve School’s orientation weekend activities, ongoing advisory program, house activity programming, and other wellness initiatives will make the community even stronger.
Head of School