How Do We Define Community?

How Do We Define Community?
Beth Coyne

I have always loved the fresh start feeling that we get this time of year. We look ahead with anticipation to all that this year holds for our students and our school community.   

In my search, I was looking for a school that had a community. The definition of community that I like the most is a group of people who have mutual concern for one another. We may not always agree or think the same way, none of us really have the same experiences in life, we all do tread in our own unique way. But I really want to be around people who have a mutual concern for one another.  

When I was here last year in my interview for this position, I had the chance to meet with many people. At one point they took me to a room and left me there with twelve girls from tenth and eleventh grade. They had free reign to ask me questions and vice versa. I asked the girls the same question that I had been asking everyone: "What makes Lauralton Hall special?" Their answers were what inspired me to say to my husband, I really hope I get this job. They shared: this school is a community; girls see each other here (no one is invisible); it is inclusive; there is no pressure or expectations put upon you; there are no judgments made by others; they experience a sisterhood. In addition to being there for one another, the girls shared that they have a great connection with teachers and coaches; common time gives them access to teachers when they are not in class; the balance that they find here is helpful - 4 classes a day with a free and common time so they had lots of time to get work done and talk with friends; that structure gives a good balance of rigor and fun. Their answers were authentically aligned with the Mercy Education core values, “Mercy students honor the intrinsic value of the individual and recognize God’s presence in each person.” When talking with the girls, I felt that each of them had a deep sense of belonging, which is considered a fundamental need by all. Academy of Our Lady of Mercy, Lauralton Hall students are part of a long legacy– with access to a network of alumnae, faculty, staff, coaches, and administrators who are here to challenge them and watch them soar.  

Day-to-day life in any community includes good days and bad days. As my children were growing up there were times that I found myself reminding them - there is no perfect. We often build things up in our minds of how something is going to be – it will be perfect! We even see images that others post on social media that look perfect. Poet, writer, and activist Maya Angelou wrote some great advice in her book Letter to My Daughter, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”  There are moments in life where everything will be fantastic and there will be times when we may trip and fall. Lauralton students are surrounded by adults who care about their well-being and are here to support each young woman along their journey – on both the good and bad days.  

Lauralton parents have chosen something different for their daughters – a school that not only cares about academic preparation, but spiritual and emotional development as well. Parenting has never been easy and in many ways, it has never been harder than it is today. Do not worry alone, when you have a question, please reach out to us. We are your partners throughout these four years helping to raise your daughters to become young women empowered to take on postsecondary school and what they hope to achieve in life.  

One of our religion teachers, Mrs. Rathe, shared these words with me and they so beautifully describe our collective work at Lauralton Hall, “You are supposed to find your gifts and use them for the Glory of God to help others.” Our Lauralton ladies will use their gifts to lift one another up and we are all better because we are part of this community where we have mutual concern for one another. I wish us all a terrific school year.  






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