Mount Vernon is committed to fostering student-led change by creating an environment where students can make a significant impact on the learning experience.

Through the Upper School Prefect System, students have been serving the School since 2009. This unique form of student leadership empowers juniors and seniors chosen for their high character, exceptional integrity and commitment to Mount Vernon’s mission and core values.

Each year, students submit an application and are invited to interview for specific roles to represent student voices, innovate the MV learning experience, and ultimately enact change.

Positions include: Head Prefect, Ambassador Prefect, Outreach Prefect, Student Life & Culture Prefect, Community Prefect, Outreach Prefect, Wellness & Spiritual Life Prefect, Sustainability Prefect, and Academic Prefect.

Based on the success of this servant leadership model, Middle School launched the Junior Prefect program in 2018 for Grade 7 and 8 students to learn critical leadership skills, develop confidence to represent their peers, and shape the experience for the entire student body. In September, Middle School students were given the opportunity to apply and participate in interviews, resulting in a select few being chosen to lead the student body. Unlike the Upper School program, Middle School does not assign each prefect to a specific role, but rather each prefect will have the opportunity to lead committees related to areas of interest.

The first responsibility for this year’s Junior Prefect team was to meet with Dean of Student Life David Ayers to participate in a Leadership Workshop where they established norms, and brainstormed the ways in which they could make an impact this school year.

First, the group listed as many existing programs and initiatives they could think of where they might make a difference. Then, in small groups, they popcorned out their biggest ideas for new projects and activities to share with the rest of the group.

  • Jalen Hagans and Olivia Boissymaty, both in the Class of 2027, want to seek more ways to connect Grade 8 to the Upper School and Grade 5 to Middle School.
  • Molly Baynton and Phia Calvo, also in the Class of 2027, want to develop more social events within their grade to support bonding, collaborating, and team building.

While all ideas were welcome, several resonated throughout the group:

  • Grade 8 student, Charlie Copeland shares, “I came up with the Buddy Bench, which are benches that can be placed on both campuses in case someone is feeling lonely, they can sit on the bench sort of as a signal that they could use some company.
  • I also proposed a fun game we can play on campus. A bunch of golden shoes can be placed around the School. When students find them, they have the option of presenting information to someone at School. For example, kids can present something in chapel, or at lunch, or during morning announcements.”

These ideas and others will be proposed for viability throughout the year. Middle School Dean of Student Life David Ayers made sure to let the group know “Don’t worry if we don’t get all of your ideas enacted this year. It’s important to set a framework for next year. For example, the dance you all want to have. There is planning and budgeting that needs to happen during the summer. So if you all propose plans before then, the students next year might be able to reap the benefits.”

On Thursday, Junior Prefects will create committees which all Middle School students can join, to further refine their ideas from the Leadership Workshop as well as plan upcoming events such as the Halloween Bash. Next week the group will meet with admissions to learn how to lead new family tours. For the remainder of the year, each committee will meet weekly to continue exploring the ways they can make an impact with guidance from leaders in the community and their peers.