It’s not uncommon for parents to put a diverse learning community at the top of their list of high school requirements. As cultural awareness increases, more moms and dads want their children to be comfortable being around people who don’t look like they do, talk like they do, or who grew up in the same circumstances.
At Church Farm School, a day and boarding high school for boys in Exton, we pride ourselves on our diverse student body. Our students reflect the heritage and backgrounds of the world’s population, including students from Puerto Rico, The Gambia, Dominican Republic, Ghana, and South Korea.
For more information about Church Farm School’s unique student body and boarding program, please download our parent guide.
Here are three reasons why student diversity matters:
1.) Cultural awareness
The opportunity to live and study with peers who come from different cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, and parts of the world help instill cultural awareness. This leads to greater understanding and acceptance of differences.
One of the most popular student clubs on our campus is the Multicultural Club, or M Club. Members sponsor different events each month in celebration of different cultures. Our weekly chapel service includes prayers in both Spanish and English. Biweekly assemblies and Chapel services often feature student and adult speakers sharing their cultures – their cuisine, languages, and history.
Students who are culturally aware are better prepared for college and the real world where they’ll pursue careers nationally and internationally. They’re able to be more receptive and open-minded in both casual conversation and complex situations that require critical thinking and problem-solving.
Cyrus Guo, a member of the Class of 2018, who is currently in his final year at NYU-Shanghai pursuing a degree in digital technology, said, “I believe that education should prepare you for the real world, so the level of diversity [at CFS] made sense to me … When I enter the workforce, I have to know how to interact with people from around the world. You can’t teach diversity. You have to experience it.”
2.) Greater understanding
Twelve states and three countries are represented among our student body, and many Church Farm School students will be the first in their families to attend college. As students live and learn alongside one another, they can’t help but become more culturally aware. As they get to know each other deeply as individuals, they’re able to better understand and empathize with perspectives and cultures that differ from their own.
At Church Farm, boarding students reside with 18 other boys in cottages, along with faculty members who treat students like family. As part of the boarding experience, they take part in Social Emotional Learning (SEL) activities that help promote empathy, social awareness, and relationship skills.
CFS students often refer to their dynamic as the Church Farm brotherhood. Guo describes it this way: “It’s about respect. Respect and love are intertwined. In hard times, we know what to do. Sometimes, you need space. Sometimes you need to talk. We respect each other’s boundaries. We help each other through hard times.”
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3.) Real life lessons
In order to be successful in the real world, it’s important to not only be exposed to different cultures, beliefs, and ethnicities, but to also practice empathy and understanding. High school is a great time to instill these life lessons.
The Church Farm School environment provides a supportive and safe place for students to learn and practice the soft skills that are in high demand in today’s society — skills such as listening, flexibility, conflict resolution, and patience, along with the school’s four core values of respect, responsibility, integrity, and brotherhood. Our campus culture teaches students the importance of empathy and understanding for another person or situation.
One of the many benefits of a CFS education is the many leadership roles students can take on during high school. As juniors and seniors, they can be student ambassadors, where they represent their school during on-campus tours and events. They can also be cottage prefects, responsible for serving as role models and mentors to younger students in the dormitories. Student Congress roles and athletic team leadership opportunities are available to all grade levels.
In addition to taking on responsibilities and learning empathy, a Church Farm education also helps students master self-discipline and time management. They’re able to learn as much about themselves as they learn about each other.
Guo said, “We also respect the way our fellow students learn. Everyone learns differently. CFS does a good job providing different levels, pacing for the different learning styles. I’m a fast learner, but it can be hard to get motivated. I’ve come to understand the way I learn. This school has really prepared me for self-study.”
He adds, “My three closest friends are from the Philippines, Korea, and India. I might never have met them at a school with less diversity.”
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