How The Altamont School is helping students reconnect in the wake of disruptions


the altamont school
Core Values Week in August. (The Altamont School)

The Altamont School has developed creative ways for students to reconnect in the wake of pandemic disruptions. Keep reading to learn how the school’s Core Values Week reminded students what The Altamont School is all about and even further strengthened their community.

Fighting a lack of connection during COVID

Altamont Core Values Week How The Altamont School is helping students reconnect in the wake of disruptions
The school is working to build a sense of community among students. (The Altamont School)

Beth Dille, director of the school’s C. Kyser Miree Ethical Leadership Center, explained that COVID health precautions and the separation that came from the pandemic left many students feeling empty, especially when their experience at The Altamont School had otherwise been like family.

“We’re seeing disconect throughout the country—students missed out on years of learning how to function with other people. There has to be a deliberate effort to help them bridge that gap.”

Beth Dille, Director, C. Kyser Miree Ethical Leadership Center

Deliberate effort is exactly what leaders within The Altamont School have shown. During their Core Values Week in August, each day began with a schoolwide assembly, followed by student-led small group discussions and class time.

Each afternoon throughout the week, mixed-age relay races and other team events sent students home energized and reminded of how they support each other, even in games.

Learning leadership

Altamont Core Values Week Leadership Excercise 1 How The Altamont School is helping students reconnect in the wake of disruptions
For a leadership exercise during Altamont’s Core Values week, Joni Wiley’s students guided blindfolded partners in the completion of puzzles! (The Altamont School)

Mixed-age pairings for small-group discussions gave older students an opportunity to practice the leadership skills Altamont emphasizes at all levels. Students said they especially appreciated these more intimate conversations that paired grades:

  • 12 and 8
  • 11 and 7
  • 10 and 6
  • 9 and 5

Sixty-four students in grades 9-12 had a significant leadership experience leading extended sessions on their own throughout the week. This helped the school emphasize the role that students play in maintaining the community’s core values.

It was clear the difference it made when students were able to hear from their peers in addition to their teachers.

“I feel like that made it easier for other students to understand rather than just having the teachers explain each core value and how it should look. The students were able to give real examples that we experience every day and that other students may also experience.”

Finn Pak, Senior

Learn more about The Altamont’s School’s core values.

Creative approaches make students eager to learn

The focus on values extended to academic subjects as classes began. But—that didn’t mean the fun had to stop.

“I feel like many students expected discussions about core values in classes to be boring, but I really admire the creative ways some of my teachers approached it. In some classes, the core values provided a bridge to very important topics that we might not have otherwise gotten an opportunity to think about.”

Anonymous student

Students learned the importance of working together

Altamont Core Values Week Balance Exercise How The Altamont School is helping students reconnect in the wake of disruptions
Exploring “balance” during The Altamont School’s Values Week, Heather Kaiser’s Spanish I and III students worked together to balance giant piles of magazines and books. (The Altamont School)

At a school known for its high academic achievement, it is important for students to be reminded of life-work balance and the role community plays in supporting that value.

To help teach this, teacher Heather Kaiser created an exercise that required her students to work together to literally balance huge piles of books. This required communication and teamwork, of course.

“They learned that the only way it was possible was to work together and literally support each other.”

Heather Kaiser, Teacher, The Altamont School

The Altamont School continues to build community

Altamont School Exterior How The Altamont School is helping students reconnect in the wake of disruptions
Doing big things at Altamont. (The Altamont School)

Altamont’s mixed-age group discussions will continue through the year to help restore and maintain a strong sense of community.

The goal is for this experience to serve as the foundation for a shorter core values program next year that distills the most successful aspects of this first year.

The work The Altamont School is putting in confirms junior Jeremy Doster’s thoughts from August’s Core Values Week—“The community at Altamont is the best thing Altamont has.”

Want to learn more about The Altamont School? Visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news.

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