The Anchor Project
The Anchor Project is a new advisory program at Bishop McNamara that is starting for all freshmen in the Fall of 2017. The Mission Statement for the Anchor Project is:
The BMHS Anchor Project helps students learn to think with Christ, by enhancing their wellbeing and building strengths of mind, heart, and soul.
In other words, we have created this program to help provide students with a small community of co-journeyers as well as additional support regarding building their character and promoting their mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing in ways that can be difficult to do during a normal course with academic learning goals. How exactly is this going to happen?
The freshmen class has been broken into groups of twelve or thirteen students (Anchor Groups), and each group has been paired with a faculty or staff advisor (an Anchor Leader). All Anchor Leaders chose to participate in the project, and each Anchor Leader is being matched with only one Anchor Group, to whom they can offer their full attention.
Anchor Groups will meet all year long, in a non-academic environment focused on promoting wellbeing and character strengths. In other words, although attendance is required, there are no grades in the Anchor Project; instead, the Anchor Group community will be used as a safe place to explore and improve the whole person in ways that are foundational not only for high school but for all of life.
With the advent of PRIME time, an 80-minute block during the middle of the day when students will eat lunch but can also attend to other tasks, our school schedule will be based on a six-day cycle: A, B, C, D, E, and F days. (This schedule affects what happens during PRIME time, but not the order of academic classes; all A, C, and E days will have class periods in the order 1, 2, 3, 4, and all B, D, and F days will have class periods in the order 5, 6, 7, 8.)
Anchor Groups will meet for thirty minutes, during PRIME time, two or three times per six-day cycle. Specifically, they will meet on A, B, and D days. After the first month, meetings will usually only occur on A and D days, because B days will be used for students to meet one-on-one with their Anchor Leader, allowing an opportunity for more focused support. Each student will have several one-on-ones with his or her Anchor Leader throughout the year.
The thirty-minute Anchor Group meetings will provide students a chance to check-in with and support each other, overview upcoming events on the school calendar, discuss their experiences of service and gratitude, and engage in a different activity each day focused on stress management, team-building, self-awareness, or character development.
While we are very excited about the Anchor Project, it is important to understand that this is not a replacement for the existing methods of support for students. Every student at McNamara will still have a school counselor assigned to their grade as well as a Dean of Students assigned to their grade and in most cases, these individuals are the contact point for concerns that families may want to address. With these different programs supporting students in distinct ways, we look forward to providing students with the strongest foundation possible and to continually improving the Anchor Project based on data gathered from its inaugural year.