Educating the Whole Child, Part 3: Body
by: Jessica Raba ’98, Assistant Head of School | Principal
When I think of LuHi, it is impossible to consider it one-dimensionally. Instead, I see it through the lens of my myriad connections to this place: as a product of it (proud class of ‘98 alumnus!), as a school leader, and as a prospective parent (my daughters are currently in 1st and 4th grade). There are so many schools on Long Island, terrific ones at that, so why LuHi? In considering our mission – a Christ-centered, college-preparatory school that educates in body, mind, and spirit – I will take on a different piece of our mission in this series of blog posts aimed at exploring what sets LuHi apart. The first post focused on our academic program – specifically on the mind portion of our mission. The second post focused on our campus ministry and service program – specifically on the spirit portion of our mission. Today, I focus on body.
I started my career teaching grades 5 through 8 English, and my assigned homeroom was a 7th grade class. When I think back to my own experience as a 7th grader, I remember (albeit vaguely) the swirl of changes at that time. From emotional to physical to hormonal and everything in between, that particular time in adolescent development is a very active one. As a teacher trying to understand the development of my students, I read a book (Yardsticks, by Chip Wood) about developmental stages and ages and the particular book (in an earlier edition) recommended that 7th graders go for a school-year-long outward bound kind of experience. My takeaway from this was that students at this stage need a great deal of both hands and minds-on experience, both in and out of school. While almost 20 years have passed since I first read this book, the take-away remains, and perhaps have come into even clearer focus as we have navigated the challenges of the pandemic these past nearly two years.
At LuHi, as we think about our students’ physical needs, in combination with their intellectual and spiritual ones, several examples of an eye toward the body portion of our mission statement come to mind.
- Be it performing or visual, an education that incorporates the Arts incorporates a focus on the body. From proper technique in picking up an instrument, to the physicality and bodily control needed to support dance performance or vocal styling, to technique used in drawing, painting, or ceramics, to choreography in the performance of a musical, the body is a core piece of successful development in the Arts. We are thrilled to have begun a new course in Theater this school year, which offers a school-day opportunity in addition to our after school theater programming. From beginner to advanced, and at each stage along the way, our Performing Arts teachers focus on coordinating the body with the mind and spirit for a beautiful outcome.
- At LuHi, there is no opportunity to opt out of lunch. To meet physical, social, and emotional needs, it is important that each member of our school community find balance in their day through a meal. Our partner, SLA, continually strives to provide healthy choices for the LuHi community, serving breakfast and lunch. For students who prefer to bring their own meal, our cafeteria provides beverages and snacks if desired.
- Required at all age levels*, Physical Education classes provide an opportunity for structured physical movement. From the development of technical skills to cooperative game development, our Physical Education program honors the needs of students grades 6-12. Within the PE/Health department, required courses in Health (grade 8 and grade 10) help to provide an academic context for understanding the health needs at each age and stage, from physical to mental wellbeing. Electives in Sports Medicine and Strength and Conditioning provide opportunities for those students interested in pursuing careers in health sciences to dig in a bit more deeply. *Note that after 9th grade, Varsity Athletes are able to opt out of PE classes.
- From an introduction in 8th grade to the availability of Robotics and Engineering classes in the elective course offerings in high school, STEM offers an opportunity for students to connect brain to body in hands-on learning endeavors.
- On a quarterly basis in typical school years, special events planned by our Student Government bring the school together for good-natured fun and competition. The fall Pep Rally, Christmas Spirit Week’s Reindeer Games, a Winter Pep Rally, and Spring Battle of the Classes present an opportunity for relays and other hands-on and physical competitions. Past highlights include the over-under relay at the Fall 2021 Pep Rally, Faculty vs. Students basketball games at past Winter Pep Rallies, and a full-size game modeled after the board game Hungry, Hungry Hippos a few years back during Battle of the Classes.
- Beginning with intramural offerings in middle school, through to Varsity level sports across three athletic seasons of the school year, LuHi offers an athletic program for any students who are interested in participating. Check out our athletics page for more information!
- Our Middle School Beyond the Bell program provides a bit of after school structure for our 6th through 8th grade students. With an opportunity for outside movement, as well as indoor activities, this program offers a nice transition from the school day before heading home for the day.
Through these activities and more, LuHi recognizes and honors that students are entire beings. The intersection of growth and development in mind and spirit must also connect with the physical. As we view each student as a child of God, uniquely and wonderfully made, we recognize that students must learn how to take care and nurture the one body which they have been given. Through our curriculum and activities, LuHi continually seeks opportunities for students to recognize this and find opportunities to grow physically and use this for the good of our community and world.
What’s to come?
Our team is currently exploring options for increased movement in the classroom setting, increased use of outdoor facilities for class meetings, and always seeking more co-curricular activities for our students.