Creating Connections, Building Community

By Paul Hagen, Director of Student Well-Being

Community is at the heart of everything we do at EPS. We are rooted in the idea that we are better together, that every individual helps to enrich the experience for all, and that connection is vital to a rich educational experience.

But community is challenging this year with the pandemic keeping us all isolated in our own homes. In typical years students have plenty of informal ways to connect with each other—conversations at the lunch table, active play on the sports court, laughter in the hallways, and a rich array of clubs and activities to choose from. This year, of course, is anything but typical. And while we cannot recreate the natural connection points that students would normally have on campus, we have found innovative ways to build connection and community even as we remain remote.

Our new Activities Coordinator, Sam Baldwin, in partnership with the Student Leadership Council and faculty and staff, has developed a stream of creative connection points, activities, and clubs to keep student engaged. These have included special drive-thru events on campus, virtual scavenger hunts, lunch time discussion groups, several mid-day club offerings, hands-on competitions, and guest presentations. Of course, we are always pushing for new and exciting ways to connect with students and to ensure that every student feels like they are an important part of the EPS community. With that in mind, we have a whole new slate of student activities and socials on the horizon. In-person activities re-launch on February 22 and include outdoor experiences, hands-on projects, and plenty of time to safely socialize in person. In March we will be piloting an optional movie showing under the giant tent at the Annex and will also be releasing a new menu of on-campus activities for students including opportunities to spend time in the Maker Space, to create art projects, to get outdoors for hikes on the Cross Kirkland Corridor Trail, and much more. The Student Leadership Council is planning a spring spirit week—similar to previous spirit weeks—with advisory activities, themed days, and fun after-school socials. Finally, our senior advising team has created a series of senior-only activities in the spring to celebrate our seniors and to give them special opportunities to connect as a class.

Community remains an important part of the EPS experience, one that we continue to work hard to promote for all our students.