School is back is session and with the fresh 2018-2019 school year underway, students may be itching to hear the details regarding the updated privileges and disciplinary guidelines. The administrative team at Gilmour Academy is constantly brainstorming new ways to improve the daily lives of students by making improvements to current policies and serving as advocates for their entrusted youth.
New Infraction System
According to Mr. David Pfundstein (‘93), Dean of Student Life and Leadership, the most recognizable improvement in the disciplinary system at Gilmour is grouping infractions – infringements on school protocols – into three levels. For example, level one infractions are slightly more minor offenses such as a dress code violation or not wearing a visible ID swipe badge. Whereas, level three infractions are more serious issues such as alcohol/drug use or bullying. This new system is designed to help students see a pattern of how their actions result in certain consequences.
Lookin’ Sharp and Comfortable in Gilmour Spirit Wear
In addition to improving the disciplinary system, the administrative team at Gilmour makes a conscious effort to revise the school dress code every year. Their goal for the dress code is to help students feel as comfortable as possible while still looking sharp.
Mr. Pfundstein values school spirit and decided to allow students to wear Gilmour outerwear during school. This new accommodation will also help students stay warm during harsh winter days.
The student body showed a positive response to this new change. Megan Brzozowski (‘19) said that “being comfortable in class is important for students because it improves their overall attitude about school.”
Mr. Pfundstein said, “I’m glad to see Gilmour colors everywhere now, rather than having to give students infractions for it.” He also mentioned that Polo Fridays used to be a once-in-a-while privilege. This year, the dress code permits students to wear solid colored polos every Friday.
Improving Attendance at Convocation
One concern the administration is addressing this school year is punctuality for Convocation that starts at 8 a.m. every Tuesday through Friday. Mr. Brian Horgan, Assistant Head of School and Director of the Upper School, said that “starting the day off right by being present at Convocation sets us up for success.” Mr. Pfundstein, Mr. Horgan, and Director of the Middle School, Mr. Ryan Ryzner worked very hard this summer to discuss the changes that should be implemented this year. They quickly realized that Convocation is a profound opportunity for the Gilmour community to assemble as a whole school.
They discussed how students missed Convocation too often last year. This year, students must be in their assigned seats before the chapel doors close at 8 a.m. Mr. Pfundstein admits that they were loose with this rule last year and that Mr. Horgan, Mr. Ryzner, and himself would be more present this year. They feel that this year they should always be among the first ones everyone sees in the morning to set a prime example for the student body.
Security ID Key Cards are “Key” to Being a Model Student
Three years after the implication of the security ID swipe cards, the Gilmour students and faculty are expected to wear them once again this year as it is an extremely important procedure. This highly visible form of identification is believed to make Gilmour Academy more secure. Mr. Pfundstein revealed that they do not really want to give infractions for students not wearing their swipe cards, but the IDs are extremely important. Students are expected to wear their key cards at all times. If necessary, students may sign out a loner badge for the day to avoid an infraction.
Mr. Pfundstein’s Overarching Message
Through all of the new changes, Mr. Pfundstein wants students to know that his first action is not always for consequence. He said, “We’re going to agree or disagree, but I want students to feel comfortable. They are able to talk to the administrative team and teachers and not feel judged. If they want changes or feel that something is not going right, I want them to be able to voice their opinions.”
In summary, Mr. Pfundstein shared a common theme of respect. He thinks the big picture is to love coming to Gilmour every day.
His official message to students is to “respect the people and the buildings at Gilmour. If you are feeling that there are challenges or that things are not going your way, speak to someone about it. I think that we forget, as adults too, that everyone comes to school with a different story every day and we sometimes lose this perspective. We just need to be respectful and enjoy what we have here because we have a great place.”