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California Boarding School Culture/Honor Code/Motto

8minutemile8minutemile Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
I started this conversation on another thread about one specific boarding school in the LA area, but now curious to learn more about other California boarding schools too since our family is open to options.

We have noticed that schools each have a motto or honor code that is promoted as somewhat of a guiding force for the campus culture. Please share your experience as to whether you think that the school community is truly held to that standard. For us, school culture is important--we think it is one of the more important qualities of choosing not just a school but a place that will be a home away from home.

Replies to: California Boarding School Culture/Honor Code/Motto

  • msc3173msc3173 Registered User Posts: 27 Junior Member
    My child will be starting Cate this fall. I won’t go into details publicly but the head of admissions showed so much kindness and caring to my child after an unfortunate incident with our current head of middle school that it cemented my feelings that the right school had been chosen. We are exited to see what next year brings.
  • CaliMexCaliMex Registered User Posts: 1,693 Senior Member
    Thacher is all about Honor, Fairness, Kindness, and Truth. Weeks before school started, the dorm head wrote to the incoming freshmen asking them to ponder those values (Honor, Fairness, Kindness, and Truth) and what they might mean in the context of living in a dorm with 29 other girls. It was the subject of one of their very first group discussions upon arrival.

    Integrity is central. There is strong peer pressure to do the right thing, even when no one is looking.... By the time they are upperclassmen, students are trusted to take their exams unproctored.

    Students also encourage each other to step outside their comfort zones. This starts with the horse program. The vast majority of kids (90%) have never been on a horse. They experience a LOT of failure (and falls!) through the riding program and count on their peers for emotional support and horse care when they themselves are unable to feed, water, or care for their horse due to some other commitment. They really learn to support and help each other.
  • CaliMexCaliMex Registered User Posts: 1,693 Senior Member
    PS: The head of admissions at Cate is really awesome.
  • Hopeful0304Hopeful0304 Registered User Posts: 73 Junior Member
    Stevenson is known to have a culture of relaxed kindness, and I would agree that both students and teachers conform to this ideal. It is not a high pressure environment, and the administration in the last few years has made a huge effort (successfully) to reduce the amount of homework, increase the hours of sleep, and emphasize student health and happiness.
  • CaliMexCaliMex Registered User Posts: 1,693 Senior Member
    Also: Humility is a key trait at Thacher. It is why the mascot is a humble Toad.
  • westcoastmom987westcoastmom987 Registered User Posts: 42 Junior Member
    Our family’s experience at Stevenson is similar to what @Hopeful0304 described above. Stevenson’s motto is “Where You Belong” and they are very sincere about meeting each kid where they are and growing together as a community. The head of school at Stevenson is fantastic.
  • CateCAParentCateCAParent Registered User Posts: 107 Junior Member
    A couple of musings about Cate.

    The motto is "Servons" -- to serve. There is a lot of opportunity to do public service, but it really shows in the emphasis on everyone contributing to the Cate community. It is reinforced from move-in day to assembly to all of the clubs to all of the jobs. Everywhere. Small example, at the brunch at\t fall parents' weekend, our freshman son brought over some of his senior boys to meet us. One of them saw that we were done with our plates, and without comment just cleaned up the table for us. We didn't ask, they just did it. 17 year old boys.

    The informal motto is "The spirit of this place" -- which refers to not just the peaceful ambiance/learning environment, but also the kindness and community that comes from it. Hard to define, but it is real. It is probably the nicest place I have ever been.

    The educational philosophy is "Inquiry". Every class is designed around an analytical process, that applies equally to Humanities as it does to math. Every year there is a new theme -- this year was "change". It is woven through the book that everyone was assigned over the summer, through the classes, through talks by the Headmaster, everything.

    Cate is thoughtful and purposeful about everything they do.
  • 8minutemile8minutemile Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    Thanks @msc3173, @CaliMex, @Hopeful0304, @westcostmom987, and @CateCAParent! Sounds like you've had positive experiences! Glad to hear these schools are mission-driven and instilling a sense of kindness, humility and service and that the administrators/staff seems to value building a positive school community.
  • CaliMexCaliMex Registered User Posts: 1,693 Senior Member
    Also: Having to shovel horse manure every morning freshman year helps weed out any kids or families who are overly entitled or think they are above manual labor... (Sophomores, juniors, and seniors have other morning assignments like sweeping classroom floors, etc.)
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