School Government & School Meeting

The tradition of School Meeting, which today provides an opportunity for the entire community to gather three times per week, and student leadership opportunities, most notably the prefects and head prefect elected annually by students and faculty, evolved from the practices established by Mr. Gunn.

  • Mr. Gunn was an early proponent of student participation in the governance of the school. In the 1850s, he held “family meetings” every Sunday evening after dinner. Students were encouraged to seek solutions to the disciplinary, logistical or academic issues of the week. 

  • Clarence Deming, who graduated in the Class of 1866 and went on to Yale and a career in journalism, wrote in “The Master of The Gunnery” that: “A school, in Mr. Gunn’s theory and largely in his practice, was a mimic republic … The scholars were to him embryo citizens, interested in the weal [well-being] of the school community, and each charged, as an individual, with the duty of conserving it.”

  • Subsequent heads of school continued to gather the community together for chapel in the Meeting House on the Green. These gatherings were moved after 1958 to the chapel in Bourne Hall. Both students and faculty were invited to speak about issues of community concern.

  • With the rise of a more culturally diverse student body, the term “chapel” was dropped and the bi-weekly meeting became more secular in nature.

  • Today’s School Meetings, which have been held in the Tisch Family Auditorium since January 2020, are run by the prefects who, through their leadership, can set the tone for the entire school year. “The position of prefect,” said Prefect Ben Greenfield ’07, “is neither defined by the dictionary nor our faculty, but solely by the students holding the title.” His classmate, Head Prefect Sean Kelly ’07, dubbed the prefects “the voice of the students.” During their yearlong tenure, they have an opportunity to listen, to implement change, to strive for unity, to create community and to give back through their service.