The Peer Leadership Experience

Among Friends   Spring 2015

Sujin KimA personal essay by Sujin Kim ’18

Peer Leadership is a new elective that all ninth grade students are required to take. We’re split up into classes of eight or nine, and each class is assigned two senior Peer Leaders. Our class meets once a rotation – about once a week – and each time we meet, our Peer Leaders have a different “lesson plan” for us. They’ve talked to us about everything, from managing stress and dealing with ethical dilemmas, to relationship advice and the importance of academic honesty. They also let us know which teachers have the best snacks.

I have to admit that when I was first told I would be taking Peer Leadership as an elective, I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure that it would be worth giving up an elective period each week. But when I met my Peer Leaders, I realized why this class was worth my time.

I met my two Peer Leaders, Emily Tatum and David White, at Freshman Fun Day. We spent the whole day outside playing teamwork games and getting to know our fellow classmates. After the games, Emily and David introduced themselves to my group. I recognized them both as Admissions Ambassadors for our school. They were good friends with each other, and they were incredibly friendly and welcoming to us. I already felt comfortable and at ease around them, and we hadn’t even had a class yet.

Over the next few weeks, my classmates and I slowly learned to navigate the waters of the Upper School. We were foreigners in a new country, and there were a lot of adjustments to be made. Peer Leadership gave us a lifeline to invaluable resources, including guidance, a good laugh, and most importantly, newfound friendship. This class gave us something that students at other schools can only dream of: a strong connection between the freshman and senior classes. The work that each Peer Leader puts into leading their class is truly amazing, and it’s easy to see that each one of them is committed to guiding their freshmen down the right path.

The best part is that seniors understand what it’s like to be freshmen. They know that we are on our own journey to personal discovery, and they are unfailing in their efforts to help show us the way. The Peer Leaders have given me the indispensable gift of friendship, and they’ve inspired me to fearlessly strive for even the loftiest of goals. The values I learned, the confidence I gained, and the camaraderie that formed in Peer Leadership class will stay with me throughout my own journey, and I hope they understand how much they have done for us all.

The Class of 2018 thanks the Peer Leaders for their unfailing efforts and their invaluable advice. The difference they’ve made in our lives will be apparent for years to come.

Next: Alumni Reflections on Ethical Leadership