Chapel

Since our founding in 1947, St. Edmund’s Academy has placed equal value on the development of students’ intellect and the cultivation of their character. Our commitment to developing children’s minds and hearts purposefully remains fundamental to the St. Edmund’s Academy experience and guides our thinking and planning.
 
Developing people of character for the 21st century requires the cultivation of cross-cultural competence which is at the heart of empathy. Organized around a series of guiding questions encouraging self-awareness and social growth, our Chapel program serves as the backbone of St. Edmund’s Academy’s character development curriculum. Please see our 2019-2020 Chapel Program.
 
Here are some frequently asked questions that may help you more completely understand the program:

List of 8 frequently asked questions.

  • Q:
    What do we mean when we say ‘Chapel’?

    Several things. First, ‘Chapel’ names the Church of the Redeemer, a physical building on Darlington Road. Second, ‘Chapel’ refers to weekly community gatherings held in that space for students in 1st-8th Grade. Third, ‘Chapel’ captures a wider program focused on exploring our Core Values, identity, meaning, and traditions.
  • Q:
    Does the connection to The Church of the Redeemer mean that the St. Edmund’s Academy Chapel is part of the Episcopal Church?

    No. St. Edmund’s Academy is not part of the Episcopal Diocese or any other religious affiliation.
  • Q:
    Why does St. Edmund’s Academy have a Chapel Program?

    If Chapel didn’t exist at our school, we would need to invent it. Every community that strives to be intentional in its work requires a time and place to gather as a whole. Especially in the context of cultural, economic, and geographical diversity, we need regular reminders of our common aspirations and foibles, along with the Core Values that hold us together. Each time we give these ideas voice through a wisdom story, a nuanced question, a song, or a student reflection, we further strengthen our ability to discover our individual and collective promise – which is exactly what Chapel is about.
  • Q:
    How is the Chapel Program structured?

    More than simply a service, Chapel at St. Edmund’s Academy is a comprehensive, student-centered program focused on exploring Core Values, personal & social identity, and meaning. Organized around seven dimensions fundamental to the human experience, Chapel services present specific values and associated questions designed to inspire students to explore their lives and world.
     
    For example, under Meaning & Purpose, students explore the value of dignity by asking, “How can we be at our best when it is hard?”
    Within the Self-Awareness and Self-Worth framework, students consider the value of equanimity through the question, “Can we learn from things that annoy us?”
    The theme of Relationships provides students with the chance to examine kindness by wondering, “What good is kindness in a mean world?”
    Intentional Action leads students to think about courage by asking, “Where does bravery come from?”
    The topic Awe and Mystery offers students space to explore the power of inquisitiveness by wondering, “Does curiosity make us better?”
    Finally, under the theme Transformational Experience students think about the importance of patience by asking, “How does delayed gratification lead to great things?”
  • Q:
    What is the connection between the seven dimensions fundamental to the human experience, the guiding questions, and St. Edmund’s Academy’s Core Values?

    The seven dimensions—Values & Beliefs, Meaning & Purpose, Self-Awareness & Self-Worth, Relationships, Intentional Action, Awe & Mystery, and Transformational Experience—provide the structure to explore specific issues across all dimensions of school life and the guiding questions unite us as a community in our search for meaning and self-discovery. St. Edmund’s Academy’s Core Values provide unifying guidance as we make meaning together. For example, the Core Value “Respect for the needs and feelings of others” offers a starting place for how we answer the question, “How can we be at our best when it is hard?”
  • Q:
    Why does the Chapel Program matter?

    In today’s culture, children need clarity and direction about values. St. Edmund’s Academy offers a “counter-cultural” education organized around a set of Core Values that guide our action. Chapel offers a space to celebrate our shared purpose and that’s why it matters. While popular culture glorifies narcissism, St. Edmund’s Academy requires Respect for the Needs and Feelings of Others; while digital technology encourages divisiveness and in-group thought, St. Edmund’s Academy teaches Understanding and Appreciation for the Differences Among People; while civil life in some places encourages fear of outsiders, St. Edmund’s Academy elevates The Worthiness of Service to Others; while the popular culture offers endless examples of people not taking accountability, St. Edmund’s Academy emphasizes The Importance of Taking Responsibility for One’s Own Conduct; while far too many leaders rationalize dishonesty, St. Edmund’s Academy honors the Central Role of Honesty in Relationships; while the collective standards for behavior and civility have waned, St. Edmund’s Academy commends children for The Value of High Standards in All Endeavors.
     
    We believe that clarity and direction about values leads to children who feel safe, confident, and secure in our world today. Most importantly, we believe the Chapel Program creates in children the empathy advantage that will contribute to their success in our interconnected world.
  • Q:
    What traditions are part of all individual Chapel services?

    On Thursday mornings throughout the school year, children in 1st-8th Grade feel the pride of their formal school uniform and our school’s strength of unity as they process into the Chapel. During the service, we take time to publicly commend students for actions throughout the week consistent with our Core Values.
     
    Throughout the week leading to Chapel, teachers and administrators look for examples of positive behavior, which are then recorded and announced during the Chapel service. Progressing through each Core Value—from “Respecting the Needs and Feelings of Others” to “The Value of Setting High Standards in All Endeavors” and continuing on—any child who has been seen enacting one of those values is named, asked to stand, and their specific act is read aloud to the community in the form of a Commendation.
     
    By focusing on the positive behavior and character traits that we value among students, we cultivate a community where these values unify our daily practice. These commendations allow teachers to recognize students’ efforts and our Core Values in action.
     
    The service concludes with the naming of a Lead Student from Grades 5-8 who exemplifies the Core Values on a consistent basis and who serves as a character role model for younger students. A long-standing and cherished tradition in school history, the chosen student for the week is kept a closely-guarded secret until the moment of announcement. Upon being named, the Lead Student is presented with a medallion to wear proudly throughout the week, and our Head of School reads an account of the gifts and talents this individual brings to our community—written collaboratively by the teachers who know the child the best. Always a touching moment of celebration, this weekly tradition allows us to publicly recognize students who are living our Core Values on a regular basis, reinforced by decades of historical pride attached to this tradition.
  • Q:
    How can parents participate in Chapel?

    All parents are welcome to attend Chapel services. St. Edmund’s Academy publishes the full calendar of themes and guiding questions at the start of each school year and reminds the community at the start of each week of our guiding question for Thursday’s Chapel. Advisor groups, homerooms, and division meetings provide opportunities for children to explore the question. We hope families will use these questions to have conversations at home.
    • Be sure to ask about the story of the carved initials on the back of the Lead Student medallion when you come for a tour.  This time-honored tradition has a very interesting past.

      Be sure to ask about the story of the carved initials on the back of the Lead Student medallion when you come for a tour. This time-honored tradition has a very interesting past.

Sample Commendations