Unsuspecting Fourth Formers filed into Gordon Rink on a recent Sunday afternoon. In front of them lay 20 workstations, each equipped with four magic markers, a wrench, and the frame and rear wheel of a child's bicycle. Associate Dean of Student Robb Arndt then announced the call to action: the 147 would be broken into groups of seven or eight to solve several puzzles to receive the remaining parts needed and complete each bike.
The Fourth Form Bike Build, now in its third year, helps incoming and returning form members bond, but also serves a higher purpose. Following construction, the tiny bicycles, supplied by Concord-based company S&W, are donated to Friends of Forgotten Children, a volunteer-based organization located in the state capital that assists at-risk and underserved families in the community.
“By going through this team-building exercise together here, we can begin to get to know one another well, and at the same time impact the broader community around us,” says Arndt. “When you live in a residential environment, it's easy to forget about the broader world around you.”
A buzz filled the space as they embarked on their first challenge: learning the names of everyone on their team. “It’s a lot of fun to get to know each other outside of the classroom,” says Kayla Schroyer ’22 of her peers. “It’s a service project, but at the same time we get to know each other.”
They also needed to solve a Lego Tetris square and a mini Rubik’s cube. Through these exercises, one ensemble of students discovered the hidden strengths of their teammates. Jay Lee ’22 was adept at solving Rubik’s cubes, as it was a hobby of his in elementary school. After tinkering with the Lego pieces, teammate Avery Rymes ’22 found the right match to form the Tetris square. Returning student Julien Lundgren ’22 remarks, “It helps you get comfortable, just interacting with each other and just asking each other, ‘Oh, I can't solve this Rubik’s cube.’ ‘Then who can?’”
These interactions during the first days of school help form connections, and they also serve as an introduction to the School’s ethos. Building community both inside Millville and beyond is an essential part of the School’s approach to educating the whole student. Involvement in community engagement programs offered through the Community Outreach Office is required for graduation. Opportunities to earn credit include mentoring Concord school-age children through FIRST Lego League and working on an SPS-sponsored spring service trip during Spring Vacation. “The program is designed for students to have a more meaningful, immersive, and relational experience focusing on youth development for our students and to meet a critical community need in the Concord area,” explains Kathy Taylor, who directs the program.