Dormitories at The Hill School are led by prefects — juniors and seniors who are selected in a competitive process and who willingly give up their free time to enforce expectations, serve as resources and confidants, and create a safe, constructive living environment.
This year’s prefect training included a two-day, off-campus retreat at a nearby camp with an agenda that utilized exercises to enhance group dynamics; refine skills for managing confrontation and soliciting peer feedback; and build a sense of community. The night before the retreat, faculty leaders decided to ask the prefects to leave their cell phones at home so that they would concentrate on the training activities. Although the absence of phones did indeed enhance the students’ engagement, both the faculty and students underestimated the effect on their retreat downtime and group bonding. Instead of staring at their phones as they might have done at school, the prefects spent their free time talking, laughing, and playing together. The best and most unexpected feedback provided by prefects after the retreat was that the absence of cell phones was one of the things they enjoyed the most.
The group truly came together during the retreat, and this camaraderie and focus has set the tone for exceptional student leadership and a notably positive vibe in the dormitories this year.