One of my favorite parts of the week comes every Wednesday at 4:00 PM when the entire semester school community comes together in the Ellis Room for school meeting. The delightful science and sustainability fellow Rutherford Poland coordinates our weekly meetings, and at least half of each one is conducted in the style of a Quaker meeting. All of the students and faculty sit in a big Chewonki circle in silence, and when the spirit moves someone to speak, they do. Occasionally, part of the meeting is loosely guided by a prompt: for example, last week, members of the community shared hilarious and heartwarming stories of their reactions when they discovered that they were accepted to Chewonki. However, more often, our meetings run the gamut of topics and emotions. It’s not unusual for there to be gales of laughter and tears within a 5 minute period.
School meeting is one of my many daily remainders of why I love being at Chewonki so much. It’s so unusual for a school environment to be so free, open, and comfortable. For one thing, students here are given a weekly opportunity to voice any concerns or issues. The faculty is, quite literally, on our level, and very willing to listen. It is also pretty special to me that we are comfortable enough here to open up to our peers. People have impressed me so much by sharing their thoughts, emotions, as well as some deeply personal stories. How wonderful that we’ve created a space where community members feel comfortable enough to be their true selves.
The meetings seem to have a rhythm to them. Sometimes voices break the silence in rapid succession, with people building on the people before them. Other meetings are much quieter, with long periods of silence between voices. What I love about school meeting is that I feel so at home with these people, in this place that this silence is never uncomfortable or awkward. I’ve learned to embrace it, and that’s a beautiful thing.
New York City, NY