Advisor’s Note – Trying to Define What Our School Community Means?

One of the responsibilities, in addition to being the Director of Academic Technology, is being the lead advisor on our school’s yearbook, the Mirror. I love working with students to document and develop a journalistic approach to document and tell the story of the year’s events. Creating this “old fashioned” print record is an interesting juxtaposition to providing leadership in using emerging the new Web 2.0 methods of documenting and communicating.

Each year, we pick a concept or a theme to use as a prism to view the year’s events. This year, we have selected the concept of community as this years view. We are attempting to break tradition and create the look and feel of a magazine in our layouts, doing such things as placing ads throughout the book. As the lead advisor, I am taking the opportunity to use my advisor’s note, that I put in each year, to set the tone and define our goals for the book. Since we are nearing our final deadline on February 28th, I sat down and finished my good draft of the document. I am sharing it here so that we can all begin to have conversations around the concept of what defines the communities which we belong to. Without further ado, here are my thoughts:

Whenever someone talks about North Shore, invariably, the conversation includes the word community. It is used so frequently that one of the editorial team, when discussing the possibility choosing this as our theme for this year’s edition of the Mirror, stated honestly, “When I hear the word community anymore, I tuned out because it is used all of the time.” Various different adjectives are used to describe North Shore’s community, such as inclusive, warm, engaging, diverse, welcoming, and open. But does everyone share the same definition of community? If you were to poll the one thousand members of the North Shore community about the definition, my guess is that you would find that there would be one thousand different variations of what is meant by community.

In the greater society outside North Shore, the concept of community is being challenged by multiple technological innovations. The emergence of Digital Social Networks, such as MySpace, FaceBook, YouTube, Google Videos, blogs, podcasts have extended our opportunities to collaborate and communication with people down the street, across town, across the state, and internationally. This notion was so significant that Time magazine named the You, the individuals who are gathering in these new electronic communities as the 2006 Person of the Year.

So this year, we decided to document the events of the 2006-2007 academic year examining North Shore’s community. Using the three essential questions incorporated on the cover the book; what does community mean, what qualities of community make North Shore unique, and how do we know community when we look around, our goal was to go beyond simply covering the year, but to create that common definition of community that we can all agree with and use.
As we continued to develop the idea last spring, it became apparent that there were two characteristics that were crucial to the definition of North Shore’s community, membership and participation. Membership in the community and the various sub-communities. various classes, advisories, sports teams, ensembles, clubs at North Shore are paramount to our existence. At North Shore, we encourage students, parents, and teachers to gather together around common interests and goals. Without this shared membership, we cease to be neccisary.

But membership without participation would mean that the bonds which we create and renew each year would lose their importance. At North Shore, we encourage all to become active participants in all of the various groups that they claim membership in. We expect students to stretch themselves in all aspects of their lives, the academics, arts, and athletics. We are challenged daily to be both positive leaders and active, supportive members of groups.

This is the essence of the North Shore community. We have tried to capture these qualities in the following pages and I pleased with our results. I hope that you are too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *