As Fairhaven School ends its first month of the 2021-2022 school year, we see many hopeful signs of what I’m calling a return to semi-normal. Despite the ongoing protocols of the COVID Safety Committee, rising seniors have petitioned School Meeting for attendance waivers to better pursue activities off campus. Even as they wear masks, Theatre Corporation veterans and newcomers are trying to organize a play. The School Meeting and newly invigorated Staff Hiring Committee are finalizing the process of staffing the school. School Meeting has already enacted substantial new policies that have nothing to do with transmissible disease. The Art Room and Shop bubble with activity. Basketball has resumed with vigor, as have nerf guns and, with no discernable irony, the tag game called Infection.
However, perhaps no development heralds the return to semi-normal more than a busy docket in the Judicial Committee (JC). As we welcome both new students and returnees, the JC remains the bulwark for maintaining rights and order as established by the School Meeting. As we tell people exploring the school, the freedom seems to come more easily than its other half, the responsibility, and JC serves as the daily forum for this balance.
Although the first two weeks included very few cases, as usual, the increase in what we call “write-ups” presents an opportunity to consider this essential process at Fairhaven School. Sometimes, parents might think of JC cases involving their students as evidence of “bad behavior.” While students finishing Fairhaven typically have few or no JC cases or rule violations, experience has taught us to also expect newer students to have plenty of them. We think of this as a healthy, normal part of the process. Fairhaven students are testing themselves and the school. What are my limits? What are the expectations of the school community? What can I get away with? How do I operate successfully in this place, doing the things I’m excited about without infringing on others? Answering these and similar questions are often the heavy lifting of a Fairhaven experience, and the input of a jury of one’s peers alongside reasonable consequences for one’s actions can be essential data.
The human infrastructure of this year’s JC includes a new Law Clerk and many new candidates for JC Clerks. Over the year, we will also see many new people serving on the committee, both students and staff members. While the JC serves a bedrock function, participation also benefits everybody involved. Choose your analogy: it’s the bread and butter, it’s where the rubber meets the road. Regardless, the JC certainly helps make sure that at Fairhaven School, as in life, with great freedom comes great responsibility.