The over-arching focus of Parthenon is on creating personalized academic communities within the school. Although aspects of community extend beyond the scope of this mini-period, a sense of community can be engendered further through the forum that Parthenon provides. "When the school feels like a community, it is a better place for those who work and study there". . . and "for students as well as adults, the communal school offers strong affective ties. To attend such a school is a source of meaning - a chance to be a part of something of value" (Bryk and Driscoll, 1988). Forming relationships and making school personal is what creates that sense of community. "Three main elements of personalization surround the idea of student-adult relationships: engagement of students in a cohesive, nurturing culture; teachers operating in a positive, professionally oriented community; and a community of commitment driven by strong student-adult relationships" (Murphy, et al, 2001).
The best schools actively seek ways to enrich the school environment for students such that it has a welcoming feel by providing a climate that values student involvement in school decisions and creates opportunities for students to build sustained relationships with teachers and other adults (Ogden and Germinario, 1995). Inclusiveness is denoted by student involvement in extracurricular activities, increased peer interaction through shared experiences, schoolwork relevant to students' life, students' feeling of belonging, and appreciation for multicultural perspectives. Murphy et al (2001) suggests given the benefits that students can obtain, high schools should promote co-curricular activities for all students because these pursuits can undergird the goal of teaching students to be responsible and fulfilled human beings, proving them with opportunities that develop character, critical thinking, sociability, and specific skills. These sentiments were reiterated by the National Association for Secondary School Principals in 1996. A noteworthy study concluded that the greatest predictor of adult success was involvement in school activities (Rogers, 1987). Furthermore research has shown that participation in extracurricular activities has a greater impact on achievement for students in minority groups and for academically below-average, low-achieving, and female students (Oakes, 1985; Steinberg, 1996; Tye, 1985). "Exemplary high schools have a common core of activities, both academic and nonacademic, around which school members have meaningful interaction. These activities provide students with a sense of school membership and belonging. For students to be engaged in high school, they must feel a sense of attachment to the school and to the people in that school, a task that is accomplished in successful schools through a common academic core and increased involvement in shared extra and co-curricular activities" (Murphy et al, 2001).
The key to creating a cohesive, nurturing environment for students lies in having a school populated by caring adults. Research strongly supports the idea that high school students want and need - and perform better for - adults who care about them (Bryk, Lee, & Holland, 1993). The NASSP accentuates this notion of providing a caring environment further in a statement that "high school must be an institution that unabashedly advocates on behalf of young people (1995). Teachers' interests in students doesn't stop at the schoolhouse door but extends into their personal lives. Time and energy put into developing these personal relationships with students can be draining and exhausting for teachers, but effective high schools find ways to organize programs to facilitate these relationships and support teachers in this important work (Murphy et al, 2001). Reaching out to students also includes giving students more responsibility in their learning process because it is the level of responsibility owned by the student that is positively related to academic performance.
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