I have started, and re-started, and reworked this blog post more times then I can count. I now have a separate folder on my computer that’s just dedicated to drafts and lists of ideas. It’s really hard to come up with one thing that sums up what PFS is for me. Making the decision to come to this school turned out to be a pivotal point in my life, although I don’t think that change really manifested until more recently.
When I started here in January of 2015, I had absolutely no idea how to spend my time. I ended up just hanging out with people for most of the time. Sometimes I would bring a book and read for a little while, but I was mostly just spending time with people. Eventually I started bringing my knitting and spending most of my time working on that. For whatever reason, I started sitting in the Sun Room, where JC was being held at the time, and just watching JC while I knit. I found JC fascinating, and as a result, I ran for JC clerk (and was elected) a few weeks later. This was sort of the beginning of my involvement with the running of the school, which has played a large role in my growth over the past almost two years and my appreciation for the opportunities this school provides. I wouldn’t have any of the same kind of leadership opportunities at any other school, or be able to do things that really matter and are influential in the culture of the school as well as in my personal growth.
The feeling of community that is embedded in PFS, and that keeps it alive and thriving, is like no other. Someone once asked me what it is about this school that my old school just couldn’t get right, and the very first thing out of my mouth was “Well, people actually care when I walk in the door here.” I think that is so rare for a school - for the people in the community to really care about each other and be genuinely concerned about people’s well being. I think part of the deep sense of community comes from the sort of bubble we are in when we are at PFS. Our bubble is filled with terms and ideas that people in the ‘outside world’ don’t understand, and it lacks things like ageism and expectations about how young people are supposed to interact with and “respect” their elders. Everyone in this bubble has at least one common experience with everyone else. For instance, almost everyone knows what it’s like to try to defend the school to a skeptical family member, friend, or even someone you barely know who has decided to question your life decisions. Our bubble does not give us immunity from the bad things happening in the world, or bless us with ignorance, but it gives us a place to discuss those things with people who care about us and with whom we have at least a little bit of common ground.
PFS is letting people learn to be responsible members of a community, to advocate for themselves and their ideas, to solve problems, and to be shameless about asking questions.
PFS is responsibility, PFS is community, PFS is hard, and PFS is change.