Learning to Lead at Becket

By 11th graders Marty and Nadia

A highlight of every Meridian student’s academic year is our annual trek to the Berkshire Outdoor Center, in Becket, MA. The whole school gathers on the streets of JP at 5:30 AM to embark on our adventure. After leaving our homes at the crack of dawn, we all arrive in Becket early, on a Monday morning. After a quick icebreaker, we break off into small groups, where we spend the majority of the time during our 30-hour experience. Other highlights include the annual s'more fest, musical celebrations at night, and perhaps Head of School Josh’s renditions of “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin,” from Oklahoma!

Each of these small groups traditionally has had ten students, a Meridian teacher or two, and a Becket facilitator, who takes the group through various fun games, and team-building events. This year, Meridian added Leaders In Training or LITs to the group. Every member of Division Four was eligible to become a LIT.

After nervously agreeing to become LITs, we quickly got excited about our pre-Becket training. Johnny, an experienced facilitator came to Meridian a week before Becket to train us. We discussed what it meant to be a leader at school, and what a leader means in general. After these discussions, we shifted outside to play a variety of team building games that we might incorporate at Becket.

One of our favorite games was called “Remix.” In Remix, one person from the group leaves the room or goes somewhere where they cannot hear the group. Then, the group makes a big circle, shoulder to shoulder. Each person forms a partnership with the person on their right and one with the person on their left. Each partnership chooses a line from a pop song. They split that line into a half, so together, they can sing that line of a song. When everyone is in their proper place in the circle, it sounds like a medley of song lines. But here is where the fun part comes in, the circle scrambles into a random arrangement. Each person holds out their two fists in front of them. Then, the person who was outside of the room comes back in. Their goal is to arrange the people back into the correct order, finding the pairs. To do this, when the “organizer” taps someone’s fist, the person sings their part of the line that corresponds with the fist tapped. It turns into a really fun game of match.

Once we arrived at Becket, we met with Johnny to discuss our plans. In building our group plans, we decided to start with some icebreakers, before moving into a game which involved trust and communication; both skills we would have to use as leaders ourselves. To play the game, we divided our group into teams of three. The object of the game was to collect as many objects which were on the open field as possible. One person was blindfolded, and they were the one trying to get the objects. Another person could instruct the blindfolded person with their voice, but could not see the blindfolded person. The final person could see the blindfolded person, but could not speak, so they were forced to use physical gestures.

This game was a hit, and we played many variations. Each round people came up with better strategies. After we finished, my partner and I led a debrief, something which happens with the group leader after every game. We discussed what strategies went well, and which didn’t. We also talked about how some of the skills and group dynamics might be present in school, or in other parts of our lives. Leading the discussion was probably one of the hardest parts of being a LIT. The debrief required a lot of participation from our group to be able to function. This was the part of leading which required listening and thoughtful support, two of the more challenging skills we got to practice.

After we led, we agreed that it took patience to lead with a group of people, and also to lead with someone else. We also needed to know how to evaluate a situation. A lot of our plans had to be adapted, due to space or materials we had. After this summer, we both only have one year left at Becket. Having this opportunity to play a leadership role in our school made us a key part of helping to create a strongly knit community at the beginning of the year, and we felt really glad we could do it.

“School Without the ‘School’ Thing”: Our 2016 Becket Trip

Written by Division I Media & Journalism reporters Elliot Ure and Jesse Eliot

At the beginning of every school year, all Meridian students go to Camp Becket in Western Massachusetts for two days and one night. The tradition was started with the intention of building community each fall, and it has been going on for seven years. During the day, activity groups do fun games with names like Alpha Beta and Jedi Juice, and at night everyone participates in what is known as “S'mores Fest.” At S’mores Fest, as readers might guess, students eat s’mores and play music around a campfire. On the last day, we play big group activities and take an all-school photo.

Going to Becket is useful for both new and returning students. We interviewed a variety of students and faculty, and both those who have gone for many years and those who are new to Becket had fun and thought it was a good community building experience. Josh Abrams, Head of School, said “My favorite memory at Becket was our opening group building activities.” The majority of our interviewees agreed that they felt closer to fellow Meridianites after our trip to Becket, including new MST teacher Jonathan Cannon, who said, “I think that it's great that we were spending time together as a school not doing ‘school’ thing.” Even though he’s known many of them for years, Josh even agreed that he felt closer to the students, saying, “I think it is a really good use of our time.” The one thing that people didn’t seem to like was the food, but hopefully S’mores Fest made up for that!


Students and faculty adventure at Becket!

On September 21st, we voyaged off on our annual student and faculty trip to Becket, Massachusetts for a few days of outdoor fun and adventure. Students scaled high ropes courses, sailed down zip lines, engaged in group problem-solving, canoed, hiked, learned about local ecology, and spent an evening around a campfire. (S’mores were on the docket as usual, along with fire-toasted Pop Tarts for the brave of heart and strong of stomach.)
Every fall, the trip gives Meridian a chance to re-unify after the summer, and new students have the opportunity to fully bond with their peers outside of the classroom. Whether it was the crisp fall foliage, the fun and supportive leaders, or the evening in the cabins playing cards and relaxing, many students reported that this was their favorite Becket trip yet.