PICTURED ABOVE: Form I Dean Emily Bemenderfer, Form II Dean Alejandra Suárez, Form III Dean Jessica Chu and Form IV Dean Rebekah Calhoun (from left to right) posed as the “Dean Team” on Halloween.
Each year, Form Deans undertake the colors yellow, orange, blue and red to represent and support their respective grades. Amidst the competitive environment of Hockaday, they make efforts to brighten the atmosphere from sweet treats to notecards.
Form IV Dean Rebekah Calhoun has been a form dean for about five years, longest of the four current form deans. Calhoun believes that her role is to support the grade and allow students to have fun and de-stress.
“We provide the extra level of support so the students always know somebody to come to,” Calhoun said.
Form Deans are advocates of the grade. They help guide the Form Council, support student initiatives, and act as a voice for the students. This year, Form Deans are working towards reducing the stress students experience.
Although she is new as Form III Dean, Jessica Chu is experienced as an Upper School math teacher and understands the level of academic stress students go through.
“At Hockaday, stress [can sometimes be seen as] a good thing, which I hate.” Chu said,“[The form deans] want to find ways that alleviate stress.”
Small things like baked goods can really make a person’s day and sweeten somebody’s mood. To help ease the stress, Chu and the Form III Council started “pick-me-ups.”
Chu defined “pick-me-ups” as “any things that make your day better.” At unexpected times, goodies like bag of candies, doughnuts and cupcakes surprise students who might be having a bad day, celebrate a student’s birthday or congratulate students who finished their junior research paper drafts.
These “pick-me-ups” relate to Form III’s annual theme of “Leadership.” Chu believes that being a good leader means knowing how to balance what’s on a student’s plate. By breaking down stress with happy goodies, students may be able to balance their work better and try to avoiding unnecessary stress.
“We forget to thank and appreciate those around us because we are so busy. We have to remind ourselves that we are one person in a puzzle, and we all should remember that everything will be okay,” Chu said.
Senior year is particularly stressful for Hockaday students. College applications, compounded with challenging academic work, puts the graduating class under great pressure. To help the upperclassmen relieve their stress, sophomores, under the initiative of Form II Dean Alejandra Suárez, took action and started Random Acts of Kindness.
The idea behind Random Acts of Kindness is the exchanged between Form II students and the Upper School community. With Form II’s annual theme “Empathy” in mind, sophomores are giving back to the community in a fun and creative way.
“It all goes back to building a better place and giving back to the community. I wanted to create something between the insides of Upper School,” Suarez said.
Recently, seniors came out of their classes and were met with unexpected gifts from sophomores. Stress balls with smiley faces greeted them alongside notecards with encouragements such as “you got this!” or “congrats on your college apps!”
Likewise, Form I Dean Emily Bemenderfer organized the freshman class to make posters to congratulate their big sisters when they finished their early applications. The posters add brilliant pops of color to the senior hallway, cheering up the atmosphere.
And while the stress balls and posters help the seniors destress, crafting the stress balls and drawing the posters helped the underclassmen relax at school as well.
On the other hand, Calhoun takes a different approach to relieve the senior’s stress. Her goal is to learn more about the students as individuals rather than a class. Impromptu dance parties and one-on-one talks with the seniors are a few of the many efforts Calhoun makes to connect with the graduating students.
“They are capable of leading, and I want them to lead. I am the guide who is trying to show them all the connections and possibilities to the world,” Calhoun said.
Story by Michelle Chen and Eugene Seong