Mercersburg Academy is committed to providing its students with opportunities for growth and leadership. With this understanding, Mercersburg has intentionally and purposefully put in place numerous initiatives that contribute to developing a culture of student leadership. With greater responsibility and investment in the school, students learn to live up to expectations rather than conform to rules. Though only a few leadership opportunities are outlined below, moments for action are woven through almost every facet of student life. From proctors in nearly every building, to ushers, club representatives, and academic center ambassadors, there are plenty of opportunities for leadership.
The prefect position is offered to those students in their upper-middler (11th-grade) and/or senior years who demonstrate a willingness to accept roles of leadership and responsibility within the school community. At least one prefect lives on each floor of every dormitory and is responsible for the supervision of the students who live there. They support all rules that govern personal conduct, standards of living, and adherence to those parts of the daily schedule that affect dorm life. Prefects counsel students who might be experiencing difficulties, and are liaisons between faculty members and students in the dorm. In addition to hosting weekly floor meetings, prefects may have school-wide responsibilities, such as leading Inbound (the new-student orientation held each fall).
Peer Group Leaders
Peer Group for High Schools is an evidence-based program that supports and eases students’ successful transition from middle to high school. Two members of the upper-middler (11th grade) and/or senior class mentor 10 to 14 ninth graders from the beginning of the school year until early February. During this time, these student groups meet weekly and cover topics such as homesickness, use of technology, exam preparation, time management, treatment of others, drugs and alcohol, and self-reflection, in addition to other fun activities. Leaders are in a daily, for-credit, year-long leadership course taught by school faculty during regular school hours. Mentor Leadership for incoming 10th graders is the sister program to Peer Group.
The Mentor Leadership program pairs seniors with new lower-middler students (10th graders) and is a sister program to the Peer Group initiative. It runs from the beginning of the school year to the end of the fall term and covers such topics as self-reflection, vulnerability and listening skills, time management, and drugs and alcohol. Each group culminates in a session on exam preparation, as the new students face their first exams at Mercersburg. The program was created in recognition of the struggle new 10th graders sometimes face when assimilating to life at the Academy. This group provides an opportunity to aid this specific population by providing additional support.
The Student Council is comprised of a president, a vice president, an executive member at large, a director of finance, a director of student activities, and includes a faculty adviser. The students run for these positions and are elected by their peers. Each class has a class council with similar positions. These councils speak for the group they represent and vouch for student interests. A lot of this work is done behind the scenes.
Additional Leadership Opportunities
The Conduct Review Committee (CRC) is called when a major rule infraction by a student has occurred that the head of school does not deal with herself. The CRC consists of six students and seven faculty members and exists to make recommendations to the head of school.
During required family-style meals, students have assigned tables that rotate every two weeks. At each of these tables, there is a dining hall proctor who takes attendance and designates which students serve as blue and white coats. (White coat retrieves the food from the kitchen at the beginning of the meal, and the blue coat takes dirty dishes back at the end of the meal. Each student typically has one or two coats per week.)
The duty dean assistants help the dean on duty one night each week. They supervise the evening study hall (for those students who missed class during that school day). When the dean on duty is patrolling around campus, the duty dean assistant supervises the Simon Student Center in Ford Hall, making sure things are running smoothly and checking out the pool table and ping pong equipment when asked. As a rule, duty dean assistants’ duties are to help the dean on duty in any way asked of them.
The Blue Keys are an organization of student volunteers who give tours of campus to prospective students. Head Blue Keys help organize and assign those tours, both on regular weeks and during open houses.
The headwaiters are a group of students who collect attendance sheets from dining hall proctors and help with announcements during required meals. Unlike other students, the headwaiters don’t rotate tables; they stay at the same table all year long.
The Language Media Center (LMC) is open during specified weeknights and help periods (the period between lunch and the next class). The language media arts ambassadors offer help and support to language students. There are one or two ambassadors each night for each language offered by the Academy: French, Spanish, German, and Latin.
Lenfest Library is open every day of the week and is open Sunday through Thursday nights for study hall. Lenfest proctors assist librarians during the evenings by sitting at the circulation (front) desk. Weekend library proctors assist librarians during the day on Saturday and Sunday. Proctors sign students in, check-out/check-in items, and assist with locking up the library.
The Math & Science Center is open during several weeknights. The math and science center assistants (along with a few faculty members from both departments) offer help to students at all levels of math and science.
Performance Group Activities, or PGAs, give students opportunities to learn and gain from collaborative experiences. Each student must participate in one, whether it be an athletic team or an arts program, every day after classes. Within these programs are many opportunities for leadership and personal growth, with each PGA having some sort of “team captain” type role. Many PGAs have team managers and photographers, which are both important positions and additional opportunities for leadership.
The Writing Center helps students across disciplines, at all levels of proficiency. The fellows are available for scheduled, individual conferences to assist their fellow students with anything from a short paper to a college essay.