2019-2020 All-School Theme: Belonging

Jenny Pan '22, Graphics Manager

The all-school theme for the 2019-2020 school year will be ‘Belonging.’ Dr. Culbert, the head of school, collaborated with the Student Council to choose this theme. She hopes this mantra encourages students to realize their role and purpose in the Loomis Chaffee community.

“Belonging to something. . . is a very intimate experience. . . it’s about forming connection,” Dr. Culbert explained.

Students and faculty not only belong to the Island community, but they also belong to many other different groups, such as dormitories, teams, and classes. This theme aims to improve a student’s understanding of their own identity, and will hopefully give them an opportunity to tell their story of how and where they belong, and what belonging means to them.

When choosing the all-school theme for the upcoming school year, Dr. Culbert focused on important questions like “How do we actually broaden that to be a school that belongs to everyone?” and “How do we encourage this sense of belonging among all students?”

Lucy Shao ’19, Student Council president, shared the student council’s decision process regarding the all-school theme. “Our representatives felt that the series of events that happened around the school this year such as several incidents of the swastikas as well as the political atmosphere surrounding the U.S. under the Trump administration really calls into question of what it means to feel belonged into a community and how we can foster this inclusivity,” Lucy said on behalf of the Student Council.

The all-school reading accompanying this theme is Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging. Brené Brown is a researcher and social scientist who has also delivered two inspirational Ted Talks. In her book, Brown writes about the importance of understanding one’s role in a community through the experiences of courage, vulnerability, and trust. Her book teaches readers about what it means to belong and she hopes to spread the significance of finding that.

Dr. Culbert hopes that the theme of belonging will bring the people of Loomis Chaffee closer together.

“I love this community. I think this is a really strong, warm, friendly, challenging, stimulating community, and I want people to recognize, to build on it, and to take responsibility for it,” Dr. Culbert explained.

“It gives us not only an identity but [also] a sense of security, value, and wellbeing. The stronger our community here, that’s going to be beneficial for the members,” Dr. Culbert explained that ‘Belonging’ is also connected and similar to this year’s theme ‘Mental Wellbeing.’ The school hopes for the students and faculty to recognize the role of belonging to our wellbeing and inclusivity.

Dr. Culbert said that Mr. Batchelder, the first headmaster, “didn’t want a group of students to be out in the world and for them to be able to be identified as Loomis students by the way that they looked, dressed, or by a particular attitude of mind. Instead, Mr. Batchelder wished Loomis students to be their best self to be individuals.” Dr. Culbert explained that there are multiple ways of belonging to Loomis or any community and everyone has multiple identities.

“Together we form this great school. That’s what I want to explore: the different way you can belong and what belonging means,” Dr. Culbert said.