The first week of school is always very exciting at St. Clement’s School. There is an energy in the building as our Clementines of all ages reconnect or meet each other for the first time. The first week is also a time when the importance – and impact – of leadership is first highlighted for our girls.
At St. Clement’s, leadership is not simply about positions or titles but, rather, a valued skill we instil in our girls from the moment they come to the School. While some of our girls’ leadership learning is explicit within courses or retreats, much is learned and understood because of our small school environment, where Grades 1-12 co-exist in one building and meet as an entire school twice a week for assembly. Our Clementines know that their responsibility, whether with a title or not, is to be role models for those around them.
The first week back affords two of our many impactful assemblies highlighting this notion.
The first, on the first full day of School, is when our Graduates are recognized and receive their gold belts- symbols of their role at St. Clement’s as the most senior leaders in the School. As I said to them this past Wednesday, their role is to assist in a significant way to lead our student community in solidarity. They are- and will be- looked up to, sought for advice, and asked to be positive role models for girls from 6 -16 years of age. There is a powerful moment at the end of this assembly, when our Grads are gathered at the front of our gym such that our entire student community, staff and Grad parents are able to see and recognize them and appreciate their presence as our senior leaders.
The second assembly, typically on the first Friday back, is when our Head Girl, elected by students from Grades 7-12 and staff, addresses the School for the first time. Mary, our Head Girl for 2015-2016, delivered an important message for all of us. She said, “Throughout our lives we are constantly discovering. Whether we discover something new about the world, about others, or about ourselves, every little piece of information or newfound knowledge that we absorb can affect who we are as people, allow us to evolve and grow, and alter our perception and view of the world around us.” Mary reminded us of the importance of listening actively and the power of community and valuing failure.
I sat listening to Mary’s presentation, and observed our entire student body and staff rapt with her message. I am proud to be a member of this unique environment where we all lead, not simply because of a title, but because we know each of us has a role helping our girls as they become outstanding women who are intellectually curious, courageous and compassionate.