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Building a Community: Opening Days at HPA

Community is a core foundation that defines the HPA experience, and creating it requires purposeful strategy, curriculum, activities, and a sense of curiosity. Those first opening days of the year help to create and reinforce a culture centered around 'ohana (family) and participation. Dean of Students, Fred Wawner, states, "It's critical to the student and parent experience that we prioritize their initial relationship with the school. Creating a sense of comfort of care first, involves layering critical information, the language we use, and joy."

At the Village Campus, lower and middle school students and their families arrive on the first day to a welcoming party made up of, teachers, current parents, school administrators. New parents are able to have last minute questions answered, and begin the process of integrating into the HPA community.

As one parent relates, "I think the drop-off was more nerve wracking for me than for my 5 year old kindergartner, and it was wonderful to have a group of people who could laugh with me and show me the ropes of HPA Lower School."

At the Upper Campus prefects and student ambassadors arrive a week before school begins and go through intense training and orientation to create a school culture that is inclusive and supportive for all new students.

As soon as families of boarding students step on to campus, they are greeted by friendly faces. Families are taken to their rooms, with student leaders answering many lingering questions that both parents and student might have. Tessa '18, a boarding student in Robertson Hall states, "The most interesting part, is to watch all the new students from all around the world, and of each grade, find their new friends and not just mold themselves into the HPA culture, but change and make it even better."

That evening, new and returning families come together in Kennedy Square for our E Komo Mai Welcome Reception. A new day student coming from Los Angeles, Dylan '18, reflects on what made him feel welcomed, "HPA is an incredibly inviting place. When I met my new classmate Sarah I was blown away by her level of enthusiasm, it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Also, the diversity of the school first came to light when I asked a classmate where she was from and her response was "Kazakhstan". I never thought I would meet someone from such a far away country and it was at this moment that I knew HPA was my home."

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