How we work to build a strong community

Apr 19 2024

How we work to build a strong community

Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.
-Anthony D’Angelo

There was a palpable buzz in the air the night of the Keystone Food & Drink Festival. Parents, faculty/staff, and alumni visited with one another and enjoyed each other’s company. More than one parent said that they visited with the parents of their children’s friends as they always do, but they also reconnected with people in their professional circles who they didn’t even know had children at Keystone. Again and again, people remarked that they had so much fun and greatly enjoyed the evening.

In addition to dining on delicious food, wine, and cocktails, there were other important reasons for the evening. We gathered to raise funds for Keystone students through a variety of auction items that included objects and experiences. The monies collected from the auction, sponsorships, and ticket sales directly benefit our Cobras and enrich their experiences in the classrooms and the school at large. Thank you for supporting the Festival and Keystone students!

Just as importantly, though, we engaged in the ongoing act of building community. Since the year 2000 with the publication of Harvard professor Robert Putnam’s book “Bowling Alone,” sociologists have bemoaned the dissolution of communal bonds in American society. As Americans tend to congregate less in shared spaces like bowling alleys, barber and beauty shops, and houses of worship than in previous times, the ties that bind people together dissolve. As a result, places like schools became more prominent as gathering spots.

This trend of decreasing community became even more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic when we could not get together even when we wished to do so. Like other institutions, Keystone suffered. For all the benefits of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, there’s nothing to replace the act of people being in physical proximity to each other.

Since the pandemic lockdowns ended, we have worked to bring the Keystone community back together in a variety of ways. Thanks to Ms. Matthews’s brainchild, we inaugurated Lower School picnics which then spread to Middle School. As one might expect, while the Middle School students may be excited to have lunch with their parents, in some cases, they just as enthusiastically grab the lunch their parents brought and hang out with their friends.

Ultimately, these picnics are as much about parents spending time together as they are family members dining with one another. When parents visit with each other, they reaffirm the shared values that led them to send their children to Keystone in the first place.

Similarly, when parents of children in grades 2-12 cheer their children on from the sidelines or in the stands, they experience the camaraderie of being together. Whether it’s a second grade soccer contest, a third grade basketball game, or a fourth grade volleyball match, parents can visit with one another while their children compete against their peers from other schools. The same goes for parents of children in middle and upper school when they face off against their opponents. Talking with one another during the intermission of a play, at the annual Science Fair, or the upcoming Stonecatcher Project Fair also allows our collective communal bonds to strengthen.

Events like these provide the opportunity for parents to build what Putnam refers to as “social capital.” We create and deepen relationships through our time together. Like other relationships in our lives, cementing and maintaining these connections require time, effort, and energy.

Witnessing Keystone students, faculty/staff, and families face hard times and challenging situations in the past has demonstrated the strength of those ties and proved the resilience of the community. Individually, Cobras are strong; together; our community is amazing.

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