Alex Barron, upper school English teacher, recently wrote an article about leadership in the upper school. The article was published in Roland Park News and highlights students' role on the Honor Board as well as the newly created Senior Council. We couldn't be prouder of how our boys lead by example every day.
Students Leading with Integrity
By Alex Barron
At Boys’ Latin, we believe leadership isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. It takes time, dedication, and practice to learn how to achieve the goals you set, rise to challenges, contribute to your community, and inspire others. We are a small school by design and this provides our boys with countless opportunities for leadership and to make a difference.
Our values – courage, integrity, and compassion – are at the forefront of all we do. As our boys are challenged to take initiative and step into leadership roles, there is an expectation among faculty and peers alike that our leaders will exemplify those qualities.
Our honor code is a cornerstone of our academic experience. At the start of each school year, new students in the upper school affirm their commitment to the code by signing the Honor Book, which bears the signature of every student in the school’s history. The responsibility of enforcing the code has long fallen to the Honor Board, a panel of students from each grade level. Students who appear before the Honor Board have the opportunity to tell their story to their peers, who discuss it and, with the guidance and support of selected faculty members, make recommendations.
The responsibility of judging one’s peers can be daunting, especially for high school students. As a result, representatives are trusted and well-respected. Many are elected by their peers early in their freshman year and maintain their position until they graduate. Members of the Honor Board hold some of the most highly visible student leadership positions in the school.
But prior to this school year, senior Kendall Walker wondered if there might be other ways for him and his classmates to serve the school. He saw that some of his peers, especially underclassmen, would benefit from student mentorship beyond what was provided by faculty advisors.
“I asked some of the guys if they would want to talk to upperclassmen about challenges they are facing at school,” he says, “ Lots of the time, kids will really open up to their fellow students.”
With support from Upper School Dean of Students Mac McDonald, Kendall founded The Senior Council, a group of six seniors whose job is to assist underclassmen navigate life in the upper school. Whereas the Honor Board focuses on helping students to uphold community standards, especially with regard to academics and school expectations, the Senior Council concentrates on helping and supporting students. The Council typically meets with students over lunch, with the hope of creating a relaxed, low-pressure environment.
To serve alongside him, Kendall intentionally selected other seniors who would represent different walks of life. They all are quiet, understated leaders who care deeply about life at their school. They are also adept at relating to their peers one-on-one, which makes them excellent mentors.
Mr. McDonald has already seen the new program pay dividends, and is excited to watch it continue to grow. “We are a relationship-driven school,” he says, “And the Senior Council will help some of our younger guys to form strong bonds with our older guys.” He looks forward to watching the Senior Council work in concert with the Honor Board:
“Teenage boys need accountability, but they also need love and support.”