Whether you find yourself turning over to a neighbor to throw out a rock, paper, or scissors, or walking past the flag hanging by the upper school office; or laughing at a friend, Mr. Fifer, or Mr. Andrén, or making weird faces to get an Oreo into your mouth, Wilson Hall’s community environment has clearly shifted this year.
Some former school traditions, like Homecoming, have returned, and some newer events, like football tailgates, are growing rapidly.
These developments can be mainly attributed to the leaders of the student-body—the Sixth Formers. Sixth Form leaders who met prior to the school year held a shared feeling that the community needed to be closer.
“It was an idea that I campaigned with, but once I came into the year, every other senior and even the faculty agreed that we wanted to do stuff with the whole school,” Sixth Form student-body president Vincent Scauzzo said. “Right out of the gate, we wanted to get things like this going,”
The faculty was excited that the Sixth Form was looking to lead the project of bringing the community together.
“All the new events are a part of a larger initiative that the leaders are pushing to build more of a sense of community. Aside from the serious meetings, we need to find time to gather together, to have fun, and to have common experiences that cement us together,” Head of Upper School Mr. Andrén said.
Through the form competitions and all-school dance, Sixth Form leaders are working to establish cultures within each form and throughout the entire school. One of the main objectives is to have more upperclassmen engagement with the underclassmen.
“We want to prove that [brotherhood is] really there through opportunities to do fun things—like the tailgates, form competitions—that bring us together more.”Student Body President Vincent Scauzzo ’20
“Primarily, we just want the upperclassmen to be involved with the underclassmen. The term ‘brotherhood’ gets thrown around a lot, and some kids don’t really see it, but we want to prove that it’s really there through opportunities to do fun things—like the tailgates, form competitions—that bring us together more,” Scauzzo said.
Scauzzo would like to see more engagement between the older students and the lower and middle schools. Even simple things are a place to start.
“I would love to see more activities with everybody. Even if we just do some little things like sticking your head into one of the classes, the kids love it and appreciate it,” Scauzzo said.
Sixth Form leaders want to create events where the student body can come together towards a shared goal of supporting a student effort—including sports, the school play, service events, or concerts. For example, the attendance at water polo and soccer matches were calculated towards a form competition in order to encourage students to support each other at games. Football tailgates and pre-game barbeques have achieved a similar effect.
While the initiative is primarily a student-driven effort, the faculty have been backing the changes as well.
“They have a lot of faith in the senior class and have high expectations. Mr. Fifer and the Form Deans have been of great support,” Scauzzo said.
The administration established form dean positions to help student leaders create events and effectively bring them into action.
“Form deans are faculty members who are dedicated to working with form leaders to both do things that are meaningful to the community, and shepherd them in creating a form identity,” Mr. Andrén said.
Student reactions towards the changes have been positive, as many enjoy the time to just have fun with the community. In addition, the form competitions that take place during the assemblies bring a new sense of excitement for the weekly gatherings.
“It feels like there is a really positive energy, both around the planning and execution of the events,” Mr. Andrén said. “I’ve heard from conversations that people are excited, or at least entertained. We ask you to do a lot of things, and you have a lot of things occupying your brain, so we need to take the time to relax and come together for just something fun.”
One of the greatest challenges for the leaders has been gauging the interests of the students and finding the number of activities the students want.
“We want to do all this stuff, but sometimes we think too far about what everybody else wants. Gauging the limit of what guys want is challenging,” Scauzzo said.
Upperclassmen have the responsibility of making sure the underclassmen feel as though they are a part of the community.
“Right now we’re kind of living in the moment.”Vincent Scauzzo ’20
“You are the torchbearers of the culture at Haverford. So goes your culture, so goes the Upper School’s culture, and, to an extent, so goes the school’s culture because the younger guys pick up on the cues of the older guys,” Mr. Andrén said.
For how these events and new traditions are planning to pass on, Scauzzo does not have a clear answer yet.
“We are still sort of feeling our way through our job,” Scauzzo said. “Right now we’re kind of living in the moment.”