The Gedrose Student Center is the image that almost every teen movie portrays high school to be like: upperclassmen sitting one on half while the underclassmen are forced into the benches or commons. In stark contrast, Jesuit prides itself in its community and inclusivity across classes, and that can be seen through programs such as retreats, Chapter 1, and other unofficial events like team dinners and small group brunches.
Most programs like Chapter 1 and National Honors Society tutoring involve a mentor-mentee relationship between upperclassmen and underclassmen, which can be extremely helpful in introducing students to each other would have otherwise simply passed each other in the hallways. Kiki Ognio, one of the senior leaders of Chapter 1, explains that the reason programs like these are so important is because they involve freshman in the Jesuit community by offering the much needed guidance that seniors provide.
“I think of Chapter 1 as kind of the sandwich that holds the Jesuit community together” Ogino said. “On one end are the seniors who have gone through the high school process and on the other are the freshman who are just starting out.”
Although programs like Chapter 1 and NHS tutoring can help build student relationships, encounters, sports teams, and clubs can take those relationships even further.
“One of the strongest relationships I see across classes is between the juniors and seniors after the encounter,” Admissions director Ms. Deklotz said. “There is something special about the encounter love that breaks class barriers.”
Unlike the mentor-mentee relationship that a lot of the school programs offer, the encounter and teams have a more peer to peer relationship based on equality. Emily Steele, captain of the women’s lacrosse team, explains that on the field there are no hierarchies, just teammates. Along with their strong team culture, these women are also taking active steps towards making sure teammates across grade levels feel included.
“Each girl on the team is paired up with their Crusader Companion, someone on the team they can rely on during practice, in school, and outside of school” Emily said. “We mostly pair upperclassmen with underclassmen to ensure that no one feels left out.”
Unlike other sports teams, the women’s lacrosse team has captains from each grade level except for freshman. These have been gradual changes that the team has made over the years, but have definitely been beneficial in creating a stronger team environment.
Whether it’s on the field, in the classroom, or in the cafeteria, there is always an opportunity to reach out to someone you don’t know. If students continue to break class hierarchies and find value in friendships regardless of grade level they can show that Jesuit really is about community.