We know that each student has a critical role to play in cultivating and sustaining the kind of positive, uplifting, inclusive school culture that inspires students to rise to challenges, stretch themselves emotionally and intellectually, and extend their capacity for kindness and compassion—in other words, to find out what it means to become their best selves.
How do we maintain a culture that’s regularly cited as one of the happiest and healthiest of any high school in the nation? It starts with caring and committed teachers, coaches, and advisors who model, day in and day out, what it means to root their work—and their interactions with others—in the tenets of honor, fairness, kindness, and truth. The students, in turn, become mentors and support systems, using their profound influence and impact on one another to set high standards, cheer each other on when confronting big hurdles or exciting accomplishments, and support each other in moments of doubt or difficulty. They take responsibility for building and tending the school culture not because they are told to, but because they have experienced firsthand the power of being supported, respected, trusted, and uplifted by those around them.
On that foundation the rest is built, including the initiatives, resources, and conversations that help nurture balance and promote healthy habits. It’s also the context in which we channel teenagers’ natural affinity for risky behavior into calibrated, confidence-building challenges like week-long backcountry trips, difficult gymkhana races on horseback, required arts and athletics that ask students to take a chance on things they haven’t already mastered, and more. For their part, Thacher students, with their enthusiasm for participating in every aspect of life at the School, from backpacking to athletics, academics to extracurriculars, weekend activities to dorm living, soon learn to bring a spirit of dynamic positivity with them to each new endeavor.