There are both advantages and disadvantages associated with having jr./sr. high in the same building. Any time you have students that range from 12 – 18 years of age, there are going to be some challenges. I believe that there are potentially many positives associated with this arrangement, and I believe that our upperclassmen can be placed in some unique positions of leadership and mentoring.
A concept that we have employed at Faith Christian School over the past 3 years are student groups called Societies. A Society is a student-led group that is headed up by 2 – 3 seniors as well as 2 – 3 students from each grade in our jr. and sr. high school. Each year at our senior retreat, we take time to go through our list of students who attend Faith Christian. One by one, these students are selected and placed into a society by the seniors. The seniors start to plan and develop opportunities to get to know these students and seek ways to encourage participation at various events throughout the year.
Every other Friday, for 20 minutes, each Society meets during the planned Society Meeting time. This Society Meeting is led by the seniors. They play some games, have a short devotional, have prayer times, discuss upcoming Society Challenges, etc. Each Society has a Society Name. This year’s theme is Disney or Animated Films. We have a total of 22 Societies. Some of the names include the following: Toy Story, Kung Fu Panda, and Cinderella. On Friday, October 7th, our Societies will be having their next Society Challenge — The Society Theme Dress Up Challenge!
On the surface, Societies can seem like a time where students just sit around and yack. Upon further review, one sees students who normally don’t associate together, having good conversations and helping each other with a variety of concerns and experiences that they are facing. Societies also allow seniors leadership opportunities as well as opportunities to develop relationships with younger students. Lastly, Societies focus on a variety of student transitions and help students navigate through a variety of situations that they may face during the normal school year.
Societies offer students a natural way to break down barriers that may be in place due to academic scheduling, age, interests, and abilities. To see young people share experiences, victories, and defeats is very rewarding and helpful to the adolescents involved. I highly recommend implementing Societies and giving students an alternative to the status quo.