Spirit was the theme for our 2015 All School Spirit Week/Homecoming Celebration. But does that mean “with spirit” or “about spirit?” What is spirit, who has it, and why is it so important?

Mr. Malcolm 1Students feel like their school is “Number One” when they feel they belong to something special. The school with the most spirit is not necessarily the one with the loudest pep rallies, the most championship teams, or the most posters around the school at game time. Rather, the most spirited school is the one that has the largest percentage of students who feel like they belong. The challenge, perhaps their most significant challenge, of student leaders, advisors, homeroom teachers, co-cuuricular faculty leaders, and administrators is to plan as many ways as possible for all students to be engaged and promote positive feelings about themselves and their school.

So if spirit is a sense of belonging – like a community – each of us has an important role to play in leading the MPA community. Here at the Academy, we have persuasive actors, WYSE students, chess giants, and volleyball stars. We have Student Leadership councils, Arts Council, Diversity Council, Service Council, sports captains, and our upcoming graduating class – leaders who individually and collectively will make a profound impact on our school this year through supporting others and promoting a culture of kindness.

This year’s group of student leaders met in early September to plan their year. They had lofty goals to build community for the entire school, not just in the Middle and Upper Schools. Even though the classes compete in activities that are sometimes hotly contested (lunch challenges by division and Academy Day challenges) they are, in fact, playing together. So, when it comes time to act as a unified student body, they do so with pride and enthusiasm.

Numerous studies have shown that the most common characteristic among successful people is that they were involved in student activities in elementary and secondary school. It turns out that players in school become players in life. I’d like to invite you all to engage fully in the life of our school, in all MPA has to offer. You will learn new things about yourself as you participate in our service learning opportunities, try out for a play, join a team, and experiment with different activities in our Student Life Program. Our job is to find wonderful educators, faculty co-curricular leaders, and student co-curricular leaders who dream up opportunities for students that push our students to achieve their best, take a risk, and try something new!

MPA is a place that promotes cooperation and support for one another to grow in spirit in a community, where we feel pride and shared responsibility for helping each other toward the best we can be.