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November 2, 2023
By Howard Chang, Upper School Dean of Students

Spotlight on Upper School Student Leadership

Flint Hill offers both a formal leadership process and an array of grassroots opportunities for students to develop tangible leadership experience. In my role as Dean of Students, I oversee both the overall student leadership program and the ever-evolving, wide-ranging array of clubs formed by our students with the support of faculty sponsors each year.

Students who have a vision for an event, have questions about how to apply to a leadership group, or who need logistical support for a proposed meeting or even a club-related field trip receive support from my office to vet their ideas and meet their leadership goals.

Flint Hill sponsors several formal leadership groups to which students can apply starting at the end of ninth grade and serve in every year after that through their senior year.

Students complete a common application with portions tailored to the specific leadership groups to which they apply. Depending on the group, candidates are chosen either by student elections or by a committee of the faculty sponsors, and I oversee the leadership process as a whole.

The leadership groups at Flint Hill are:

  • Student Council Association
  • Academic Honor Council
  • Conduct Council
  • Inclusive Leadership Council
  • Athletic Advisory Council
  • Ambassadors
  • Peer Counselors

In addition, the Junior Ambassadors program provides an additional opportunity exclusive to our ninth graders.

While planning major events such as Homecoming week, supporting the acclimation of ninth-grade advisories, guiding visits and tours of the school, adjudicating academic infractions and recommending consequences for cases of student misconduct, and representing the student body to the administration, these groups collectively play a major role in the life of all students at Flint Hill.

Club opportunities at Flint Hill are varied and rich, and generally fall into one of three categories: service, affinity and (shared) interest, though many clubs operate in more than one of these capacities. For example, the Classics Club, which is the local chapter of the National and Virginia Junior Classical Leagues, offers programming and competitions related to classical languages and cultures while also sponsoring service projects both within the walls of this community and beyond. Similarly, over the years, the Black Student Union, the Asian Student Union, the Muslim Student Association, the Gender-Sexuality Alliance, and other affinity groups have participated in forums and training workshops, created cultural appreciation and awareness videos, and hosted social events designed both for their own members and all students of the school.

A few years ago, one student worked closely with my office and fellow student leaders from three clubs to plan Flint Hill’s first-ever celebration of the Hindu festival of Holi, perhaps known to some as the “Festival of Colors.” Complete with hot food and desserts, contemporary and traditional music, and a rainbow’s array of colorful powders for willing participants to throw at each other, this ground-breaking event is a great example of one of our core values — “imagine what’s possible” — realized in action. Now, after a hiatus of several years, one of our clubs has revived the Holi celebration at Flint Hill, blazing a new trail forward to establishing what may become a new tradition within the community.

I am proud of the many examples that abound, both big and small, of ideas conceived by students and nurtured into fruition under the mentorship of caring adults. Examples such as Holi and other events speak to the potential for personal growth and development that awaits any student who chooses to embrace the flexibility and variety of our student clubs or the formal opportunities within our student leadership process.

Howard Chang is the Upper School Dean of Students.


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