Jessica Baggott and Sofia Almeida | March 13, 2019
You’re standing with a group of people, talking about the pizza that you ate for dinner last night, the grade that you got on your science exam, and what strange things happened at school today. All of a sudden somebody exclaims, “I hate d.tech.”
Anytime anything goes wrong – Enriching Students goes down right before lab day, a patio chair breaks, or there’s a horrible plane crash on the news – people will say: “That’s so d.tech.”
When further prompted to explain why they “hate” d.tech, people often cite disorganization and a lack of rigor, but when asked why they’re still here, they often respond with “Other schools are worse.” However, what people don’t realize as they’re saying these things is that this very mindset that makes it impossible for d.tech to get better. You see, without students valuing the school, no one will feel invested enough to create positive change.
Our Intersession partner, The Riekes Center, may be a solution to this troubling issue. Many d.tech students have come in contact with this organization through Intersession programs such as Painting and Drawing, Film, and Rockband. Located in Menlo Park, the non-profit was started over 20 years ago, and now teaches everything from sports to the arts. But the coolest thing about the center is the way that its students hold each other accountable and work towards the common goal of creating a unique and supportive community.
When first getting involved at the center, each new member is introduced to the “participant responsibilities”: self supervision, sensitivity to others, and honest communication. In classes, instructors will walk through these values with their students and even ask them to sign a contract to uphold them. The values at Riekes are fixed, and never change from year to year.
Although it’s true that d.tech is merely five years old, the values that d.tech presents to its students keep changing. Originally, the most highlighted value was empathy. At every community meeting, Dr. Montgomery showed videos about empathy and spent almost the entirety of the meeting talking about it.
Next, the student body was introduced to Trust Care and Commitment (TCC), which was rooted in the values of the Golden State Warriors. Then it changed to PRISE, then TCC had a revamp to “Trust, Community, Creativity.”
Where community meetings were once a place that the school discussed our values and ingrained them in our students, they have now switched to more frequently being rallies. And although some of the awards such as “Clean Machine” were obviously ploys into getting students to clean up the trash bin that was the hangar, other awards such as “Empathy Warrior” celebrated students who were embodying the school’s values. When we were lower classmen, we respected the older students receiving the awards and in turn, the awards then held meaning. This was only further amplified by the pattern of giving out the titles every week. Now, the awards are inconsistent in their characterization and in their delivery, which gives them less meaning in the eyes of the student body. Consistency and tradition are important.
But it’s not just admin that need to create consistent values and traditions. Without the students, who play integral role in creating the community, change can’t happen. Students who recognize that d.tech is not perfect but accept the school for what it is, need to embody the values that make the school unique.
So next time, instead of making a joke about how much of a mess d.tech can be, remember all of the really good qualities that set d.tech apart from other schools and your role in shaping the community.