Community and Character
Every student, staff member, parent, grandparent, and alum is a valued member of the Principia School community. As an extended family, we build on shared experiences and traditions to support each other and embrace the new students, families, and faculty who join our ranks each year. Practicing inclusivity, trust, and honest communication, we maintain a vibrant community characterized by joy, selflessness, and a love of learning.
Helping students establish a supportive community, develop character, take on responsibility, and lead others is key to the effectiveness of Principia’s student-centered approach. Academics, athletics, and our House/Crew system provide a variety of ways to get involved and contribute.
At Principia, establishing a close-knit sense of family is of paramount importance. Our student-centered House and Crew system is designed to help students connect to their school community, feel a sense of belonging, access resources for their support and success, and have opportunities for leadership.
Here is a quick summary of how they work.
In the Upper School, students are assigned to one of four multi-grade houses—Bole, Flint, Hubbell, or Perrin. Each House has its own student-designed motto and flag and includes boys and girls from all Upper School grades. Students develop collegial and mentoring relationships as they participate in competitions, school spirit rallies, and social activities. Students have many leadership opportunities as each of the four houses has two student captains, along with grade-level representatives.
While Houses span all four grades, crews are grade specific. Each crew consists of 6–9 students, including boys and girls, backed by two adult crew leaders. The small size of crews means that adult leaders get to know each student individually in a context beyond academics or athletics—and students also build close bonds within their grades.
Throughout the school year, crews meet regularly to engage in crew curriculum around core values. Crews plan, organize, and support various activities ranging from aspects of the Fall Character Trips to on-campus social activities. All students participate in running their crew's activities and are encouraged to take on leadership roles as they grow in confidence and ability.
Beyond developing friendships, communication skills, and confidence, these mentored groups provide single- and multi-grade opportunities for students to expand their social networks, gain additional support, work through challenges, and take on leadership roles.
We have a number of resources available to support students' academic success. Academic Check-Ins (ACI) are a part of the school schedule and allow all students to check in with their crew leaders to review their progress and get additional support. This is also a time for students to meet with teachers for help on schoolwork outside of class time. Conference period is also available twice a week during which students can get one-on-one help from teachers. Our English department hosts a Writing Center (located in the IDEA Center) where emerging writers can get specific help. The Learning Engagement Center (LEC) is another resource available to students for additional help with classwork.
Affinity Groups and Clubs
The Upper School has a variety of student-led affinity groups and clubs. Some of the current groups include The Difference (students of color), LGTBQ+, International Students, and Women of Prin (WOP). Students are encouraged to form groups that meet needs and support the student body.
Most weekends offer a number of student activities planned by Houses, Crews, or the School. They are a great opportunity for both boarders and day students to spend time with fellow classmates outside the classroom.
“The Principia takes the position that education in its fullest sense cannot be confined to academic subjects but includes the building of character.” —Principia Policy 12
Spend even a few hours on campus, and you’ll sense the Principia difference—in the creativity that blossoms in every classroom, in the friendly, inclusive attitudes of our students, in the sportsmanship on the athletic fields, even in the absence of locks on student lockers.
This palpable difference stems from our Christian Science philosophy. All of us—students, faculty, and staff—strive to follow and apply a principled and spiritual approach to everything we do. Essential to that effort are the teachings of Christian Science, which impel and enable us to uphold our students’ innate, unlimited perfection and potential—every day, in every activity.
Alongside educational excellence, the unfoldment of character is an integral component of a Principia School education. Our focus is developing the “whole child” with an approach that inspires every individual to be their best and to grow physically, mentally, socially, spiritually, and intellectually. This comprehensive approach is reflected in all we do, from the classroom to the athletic field, and helps prepare students for success in college and life. Here are a few ways character is cultivated:
- Each week begins with a Monday morning chapel. Speakers include faculty, staff, guests, and students who share inspirational, healing messages. Students are encouraged to work with these themes throughout the week.
- Regular community meetings address aspects of character or other topics of interest to the student body.
- Guest speakers are invited to campus to speak on a range of moral, spiritual, and leadership issues relevant to youth.
- A system of crews (small, single-grade groups of 6–9 students) and Houses (four larger, multi-grade groups) offers numerous avenues for students to develop a sense of belonging, get involved, and take on leadership roles and responsibilities.
We believe our four core values—Excellence, Character, Diversity, and Love—strengthen the individual and unify our community. They are the cornerstone of our culture. We strive to live these values and they permeate our culture, approach, and programs. Students learn how to bring these values to life through the crew curriculum during the year.
Each fall, Upper School students participate in a week-long, character-education trip. Together with their crew, students strengthen friendships, embrace challenges, and take teamwork to new heights. Destinations include whitewater rafting in Idaho for freshmen, mountaineering in California for sophomores, sailing in Maine for juniors, and a leadership development retreat in Michigan for seniors.
Students seek to answer the question, “What does it mean to be a change agent?” through a number of independent and group service activities. The School provides opportunities for giving throughout the year, such as Service Saturdays, Prin Giving Days, House & Crew projects, and service trips.
Helping students take on responsibility and lead is key to the effectiveness of Principia’s student-centered approach. Academics, athletics, the House/Crew system, and clubs provide a variety of ways to get involved and contribute. And senior year offers special opportunities for students to demonstrate their capabilities and confidence. The House system is designed to foster and develop leadership skills through the varied activities of seven House committees. Beyond committee work and leading planned activities, each of the four houses have two student captains and grade-level representatives. Additional leadership opportunities abound in the dorms, athletic teams, clubs, and affinity groups.