On Tuesday, January 23, seniors from Belmont Hill joined Newton Country Day seniors for a day focused on post-graduate life’s intellectual, social, and cultural transitions. This annual “New Freedoms” program introduces students to the newfound freedoms and opportunities they will face upon graduation through guest speakers, interactive activities, and conversation. “Our goal is to challenge students to be open to engaging fully in their newly established communities and partake in meaningful experiences that help them realize their full potential,” said Health and Wellness teacher Catherine Roy ‘09, who helped organize the programming.
The first of the three speakers for the day was Dr. Peter Folan P ‘27, NCDS Trustee and President of Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury. Folan spoke about his experiences working with students in the college setting, emphasizing the overarching theme of students being true to themselves as they navigate the increased social pressure they feel in college. “You are coming from competitive institutions and finishing a really long race. You’re getting tired, the gas tank light is on, you want to just get into college, and then you want to pop the clutch and coast. The problem is, you’re beginning another marathon,” Folan explained to the students. “The most impactful thing is the people you surround yourself with. Your friends might take you closer or further away from who you’re supposed to become.” Folan’s prior experience also includes a variety of administrative positions both at the high school and university level, including six years at Boston College as the Assistant Director of First Year Experience.
The next featured speaker was Tim Klein, author of “How to Navigate Life”. Klein, a lecturer at Boston College and former teaching fellow at Harvard University, discussed an evidence-based decision-making framework designed to help students make life’s most significant decisions while remaining true to their purpose. “We’ve never taught people how to decide,” said Klein. “How do we decide what we’re interested in, the impact we want to make in the world, the core values we want to stand for?” Using the idea of purpose to guide students in answering those questions, Klein also introduced an activity that helped students identify their strengths. Students worked in pairs to interview each other using guided questions to help uncover how they can contribute to their communities.
Ursula August, NCDS’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, ended the afternoon with a group discussion about healthy relationships. She touched upon topics such as boundaries, safe spaces, healthy lines of communication, and where to seek support. When asked to reflect on the program, A. Young, ‘24 said, “I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with the [Belmont Hill] boys in my grade to learn about and prepare for next year.” A. Guden ‘24 and A. Tsanotelis ‘24 said: “The speakers were very informative, especially Dr. Folan. His message about ‘knowing your why’ really resonated with our age group and the topics we’ve talked about in Grade 12 Seminar.”