Chase Kennedy ’23 works hard as a member of the George School Student Activities Board (SAB) to uphold traditions at George School and to build new ones for the future. Chase has been heavily involved in the community during his three years on campus since coming to George School as a sophomore.
“I grew up hearing about George School because my mom [Francesca Kule Kennedy ’84] attended,” Chase explained. “She was in the Class of 1984, and I remember her telling me what it was like to go to a Quaker school and experience meeting for worship. She also shared some crazy stories. We talk often about the traditions that George School still has like Harvest Weekend. My mom described that churning the apple butter was the main activity during that weekend. One teacher would go and churn a bunch of apple butter for twelve or more hours. Now, while we still make apple butter, the hayride has become a highlight of Harvest Weekend. For three years, I have been involved with helping to create and maintain traditions like these.”
The role of the SAB is to make sure that there are things for students to do on the weekends. “We work hard to uphold a lot of the traditions at George School when planning weekend activities,” Chase said. “A lot of other groups, such as Student Council and Day Student Prefects are creating some new traditions, but SAB is instrumental in upholding the old. You have both the old and the new.”
“I really like finding ways to be active and get involved in the community. Harvest Weekend appealed to me for a few reasons. Mainly, we have a haunted house that we create for students and families on campus. I want to be an actor and have been applying to BFA programs at schools with acting tracks, so I wanted to find things that combine my love of acting with my love for community engagement. Running Harvest Weekend brought both passions together and is very satisfying to help build each year,” he said. “The hayride itself is the most essential part of Harvest Weekend. It takes a lot of effort to put together, but when done right, it is really rewarding for everyone involved. We always decorate the trail to make it fun. Especially during the challenges with Covid, the hayride was one of the few times I felt the real George School experience, which was special.”
While some traditions evolve, others remain constant. Meeting for worship has been a George School tradition from the beginning. “One tradition that I feel is central to the George School community is, of course, meeting. I always knew about meeting growing up. Looking back now, I can see how meeting has affected my mom during her time at George School. While she is not Quaker, she often reflects back on meeting and values it as part of who she is today,” Chase shared.
“So many traditions at George School are part of our normal day and sometimes a challenge to identify,” Chase continued. “The obvious one is calling everyone by their first name. We are a Friends community and addressing everyone by their first name establishes comfort, especially in a religions, philosophy, or psychology class where you are sharing a lot of personal stories. It is so much easier to create an effective dialogue between teachers and students when you call people by their first names. There is mutual respect from the start.”
Chase feels that George School traditions are what differentiates it from other schools. “Traditions like meeting for worship or calling each other by our first names, is really what holds this community together, especially during challenging times,” said Chase. “During the pandemic we lost a bit of the subtlety of the George School community when we spent almost an entire year online. Having strong traditions, which we have held for so long, helped bring the community back together.”
“A new tradition that I think is blossoming right now is all-gender housing,” continued Chase. “It is an initiative that I have been involved with. George School is a place for everyone. All-gender housing simultaneously provides a space for people who may not feel at home anywhere else and breaks down the barriers of stereotypical gender roles. We are really trying to expand by having an all-gender floor in each dorm, which would help to make our community stronger and more inviting by living the George School ideals every student in the past and present have fought to create. My mom talks a lot about the dialogues her generation had about dress codes and using that to break down traditional gender barriers. This is the next step of that work.”
Student involvement is a George School tradition in its own right. Generations of students help to shape the community over time and work to maintain the traditions that make George School the place that it is. Chase embodies the tradition of involvement on campus.