by teacher and Pike Fest coordinator Kavita Mundra
In layperson’s terms, the word community means a group of people living and doing things together. At The Pike School, it is an integral part of our daily lives. Students and adults with various jobs in the building make Pike a community of people. From greeting each other at the beginning of the day to waving and smiling during the day to saying goodbye at the end of the day, a visitor cannot miss the sense of warmth and belonging that each and every one of us feel throughout the day. This is what makes Pike a special place.
This sense of belonging in a community became more apparent recently during a special celebration called Pike Fest – a day dedicated to celebrating our community. During Pike Fest, we take a break from our regularly scheduled classes and everyone comes together to experience a different kind of learning. We have two all-school assemblies to start and end the day with performers from outside who appeal to all ages. This year, our opening assembly featured the Brazilian Capoeira group and we closed the day with a Beatboxing group. These assemblies are interactive so all of our students and adults can actively participate and also enjoy the performances.
Throughout the day members of the community (teachers, office staff, and family members) present various interesting workshops on topics that they are passionate about. For instance, after our opening assembly, our Pre-K students attended a workshop about traditional Chinese Culture and Kindergarteners received a primer in traditional Indian dance, fifth graders learned about how to put together and play ukuleles, and a group of Upper School students learned the history and art of decorating eggs.
Apart from the arts, students also engaged in discussions about social activism and exploring different perspectives through science. Our students are excited to have a chance to explore new topics as they find out that adults have other passions/interests than the subject or the grade they teach. You can check the complete list of workshops offered this year below. Thanks to our kitchen staff, even lunchtime is family style, with students and adults engaging in conversations about their experiences during this special day.
As you know, our school is based on supporting the ideology of life-long learning and creative thinking. Our teachers do not shy away from seeking professional development opportunities to become better at their craft. As a classroom teacher, I feel invigorated and excited to learn new things because our programs are not stagnant nor are our teaching methodologies. Now, please do not get me wrong, we love consistency too – why reinvent the wheel when you know it works well. However, we strive to make learning and teaching fun.
A few years ago, I spent a year teaching abroad at an international school in Mumbai. I saw something similar to Pike Fest while I was there and since then, it had been my wish to bring this idea to Pike: an opportunity to celebrate our diversity not just in terms of race, language, and culture, but in talent and in learning styles. In spring 2017, during one of our diversity council meetings, a few of us wanted to explore ideas about organizing such an event that celebrates our community. Five of us – Kwame Cobblah, Fran Mellin, Kavita Mundra, Emeric Viani, and Liza Waters – began our research and gathered very helpful information from Tete Cobblah, a faculty member and director of diversity at the Fenn School, who had been successfully running a similar program for years.
We all fondly remember how excited we were to plan something similar for Pike. During lunch that day, we began taking notes on a small napkin and made a tentative plan. We presented our idea to Muddy Waters and Michael Eatman and were immediately given a green light to go ahead with the planning process. When we first presented this idea to the rest of the members of the community at opening meetings that Fall, we were nervous about the reaction to yet another program; the year hadn’t even started and our plates were more than full.
True to Pike’s culture, however, we were greeted with enthusiasm and curiosity. People were eager to learn about the possibilities and opportunities that something like this would provide everyone, and many offered to help in different capacities. Teachers collaborated with colleagues from other divisions to design interesting workshops. Of course, there was trepidation, but the excitement took over and it ended up being a very successful event. So much so that without any doubt we had another Pike Fest again this year in February. We were greeted with similar excitement and a few more workshop ideas.
We are a school where teachers are very passionate about what they do and the administration is supportive in many ways of our creative ideas of teaching, whether it is in the classroom or a day like Pike Fest where we do not focus on our specific subject areas but celebrate individual interests and passions. Our students are the beneficiaries of this. Pike Fest has given them the opportunity to see their teachers, office staff, and family members as talented people who are interested in many things.
This is the community we are a part of, where new innovative ideas are not only welcomed but encouraged. There is room for everyone to grow and learn. The five of us (now four, as Kwame has moved on) could not have asked for a more receptive place to launch and build upon this new idea. As a ninety-year-old school, we believe in many rich traditions that happen year after year and now we have a new one added to this list. We hope you will join us next year to celebrate this tradition.
A list of workshops presented at Pike Fest 2019:
1. Chinese Culture and Education
2. Unicorn Song
3. Kindness Party
4. Explore Madagascar
5. Board Games Around the World
6. Movement Games Around the World
7. Sumi Ink Art
8. Breaking Perspectives Through Science
10.Dances of India
12.Breakout Edu: Chinese New Year
13.First Nations and Talking Feathers
15.Stories Across Culture
16.Fundamentals of Cricket
18.Everyone Can be Great Because Everyone Can Serve
19.Exploring the Beauty of Numbers and Math
20.Balinese Gamelan Music
21.Significance of Egg Decorating and its History
22.Southern Life and Culture
23.Social Activism Informed by Asian American Experience
24.Conservations Programs Around the World
27.Journeys: The Power of Cultural Exploration
28.Irish Step Dancing and Music
29.History of The Pike School
30.Spice it up: Flavor from Around the World
31.Geometric Design in the Islamic World
32.Appetizers Around the world
33.Recess Around the World
34.A Million Swahili Sentences
The Pike School is an independent, coed, day school for Pre-K through ninth grade in Andover, Massachusetts. Visit pikeschool.org to learn more about Pike – and visit our blog for more thought leadership. To learn more about admission to The Pike School, visit our Admission page.