Initiatives: Good Ideas Get Nurtured
Flintridge Prep’s Initiatives program, funded by a grant from the EE Ford Foundation and matched by donations from the Prep Community, honors the power of ideas.
When students and faculty have ideas that could make a difference in the life of the school, they bring a proposal to Prep’s administration. The idea is tried out in a sort of beta test; it if works on a small scale, it receives funding to become a full-fledged initiative, with the hope that the idea will one day become an integral part of Prep. An initiative “graduates” when its purpose, program or ethos has been absorbed by the school.
Building Relationships in Nicaragua
Prep’s program in Nicaragua has been cultivating deep, long-term relationships in that country since 2009, most notably with a school, Colegio Bilingue de St. Mary, and a pediatric hospital, La Mascota. Prep Spanish teacher Manuel Nuñez directs the program, which includes a summer program for students that blends Spanish immersion and service, year-round exchanges of faculty and coaches with St. Mary and fundraising for the patients and families of La Mascota’s cancer wing. Prep also partners with the US State Department in Nicaragua to help bring sports to communities in Managua and the countryside.
Creating Opportunities through Prep Exchange
In 2011, Prep Exchange is a multi-pronged program sparked by former college counselor and current Dean of Faculty Vanessa Walker Oakes. Online, it links students with parents and alumni for career and college advice. All 11th graders fill out career surveys and are matched with a mentor for the one-day Junior Internship day, when the entire class fans out across Los Angeles to experience a day on the job with a parent or alum, learning about careers from cardiac surgery to composing.
Making an Impact with the SCAC
In 2013, the Student Community Action Council (SCAC) was created by students who felt that community service should be more authentic and meaningful. The SCAC helped create Prep’s current policy on community service, in which service is expected of each student, but service hours are not required or tracked. Science teacher Heather Clark is the director of community impact, helping students host the Community Impact Fair each fall. The SCAC also helps 8th graders design their Community Impact Projects, helps recruit volunteers for large events, enables individual efforts and publicizes opportunities for service throughout the year.
Leadership through Athletic Initiatives
Prep’s Director of Athletic Initiatives, Alex Rivera, oversees the Athletic Council on Leadership (ACL), a student group that coordinates Prep’s work in Nicaragua with coaches and sports teams and creates opportunities for alumni athletes to reconnect with Prep. ACL provides volunteers and support for the Special Olympics, the Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena, the JP Blecksmith ’99 Memorial 5K run as well as service at area schools. The ACL mentor other schools who wish to combine athletics, leadership and volunteerism.
Connecting Locally with LA Initiative
Students pushed for the LA Initiative, creating all-campus field trips in Los Angeles. The initiative was taken on by the faculty, who incorporated more and more examples and hands-on experiences in Los Angeles into their curricula. Most of the senior class now signs up for the English elective The City in Literature, which ties together the threads of years of learning about our region. The LA Initiative is the first to graduate out of the initiative program and into an everyday part of the curriculum.