Want students to graduate? Go to college? Help them develop the courage and confidence to "conquer" the world after school? Teach them life skills? Foster a loving community? Reduce violence? St. Benedict's Prep school in Newark, New Jersey has got a pretty incredible formula in place:
- Let them be a part of something wonderful.
- Give them more responsibility.
- Make them accountable to others.
The big takeaways:
- Make them earn their spot. Freshmen students have to go through a bootcamp to earn their spot in St. Benedict's. Here, freshmen learn that they are accountable to more than just themselves, that every student in the school is their brother and they are all counting on each other. They also make the black hoodies that all upperclassmen wear something that can only be worn after completing a 55-mile hike. Because this is not just any school they are going to- they earned their spot to be a part of an amazing tradition.
- Students run the school??? Part of that amazing tradition involves the school being primarily run by the students. St. Benedict's students are much more invested in their personal academic performance and well-being, as well as the performance and well-being of all their classmates. This establishes a unique tradition of excellence that is completely upheld by the students. How many other schools do you know of where the students take attendance and go out into the community looking for a student that is absent to make sure he comes to school?
- Make them accountable to others. Their school motto is, "what hurts my brother hurts me." Students feel accountable to their brothers to attend school every day, perform well, and help each other succeed. And they care more about each other than students at most schools care about each other because of the bootcamp, the freshman hike, the gathering of all 550 students each morning (outstanding!) and the prestigious tradition of love and collaboration. Students are also placed on academic teams to compete against each other for the top grades, so students push each other to study and perform to their maximum ability. This is the ultimate peer pressure!
Some of these tactics may sound unconventional, but the 98% graduation rate and 85% of students earning a college degree rate speak for themselves.
- Who are you accountable to other than yourself? This can be religious, it can be family, friends, etc.
- How can you take on more responsibility in your life today? A huge part of this is just making the mental decision that you are going to take on this additional responsibility. If you want it badly enough, you will get it.