Mayfield community finds strength in “doing something that scares you”

On the first day of school, Monday, Aug. 26, Head of School Kate Morin stood outside Pike Auditorium welcoming every student—with a wave, a kind word, or one of her legendary hugs. Once inside Pike, in the first all-school assembly of 2019-20, Mrs. Morin issued a different kind of greeting, one embedded with a challenge for the year: “Do something scary every day.”
Mrs. Morin clarified that she isn’t suggesting students go to a horror movie or jump out of an airplane. Instead, she wanted everyone to experiment with “putting ourselves out there.” She said this risk-taking vulnerability “builds the muscle of courage. The muscle of empathy. The muscle of love.”
Her advice applies in the classroom and beyond the gates of Bellefontaine. Standing up for someone who needs an advocate. Not shutting down in a disagreement. Trying something for the first time. When we embark on something new—academically, artistically, athletically, or even interpersonally—it takes courage because "we might not get the result we want,” Mrs. Morin said. Yet research suggests that the more people attempt challenging situations, the easier they become for them.
And, at the end of the year, Mrs. Morin anticipates this kind of strong and resilient self-reflection: “I did a lot of scary stuff and I am a lot braver for it!”
Surrounded by red and white balloons, the ASB Student Council led the majority of the assembly. Before they began with the “Prayer of Cornelia Connelly,” the founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, they struck an inclusive tone, acknowledging the variety of religious experiences in the crowd. Student leaders invited everyone to participate, “no matter your faith or where you are in your faith.” The also offered prayerful petitions specific to each grade. And then they got the crowd to its feet, leading a song and dance routine to “Trading My Sorrows”—which is quickly becoming a Mayfield tradition!
The big reveal was the theme that the ASB had chosen to carry through the academic year. “We picked the theme of Toy Story…because in the movie many individual toys come together to make a strong community of friends,” student body president Rory Burke ’20 explained. “Both the movie and Mayfield demonstrate that working together helps to reach a common goal.”
Each grade was designated a character from the movie.
Freshmen were The Aliens: “Unfamiliar with their new surroundings…but also curious and eager to learn.”
Sophomores were Buzz Lightyear: “Willing to help friends and master the art of leading with kindness.”
Juniors were Slinky Dog: “Stretching out to help…[to those who] need it.”
Seniors were Woody: “The most experienced character” and expected to, “live out the school’s motto of ‘Actions not Words’ through their final year at Mayfield.“
Even the staff got their own designation: Andy. The Student Council members focused on the way that Andy (the kid who owns the toys in the movie) had written his name on the underside of Woody’s shoe. The students said they felt similarly imprinted, with “‘shoe sole signatures’ from many different faculty and staff members that inspire us every day to be the most intelligent and best versions of ourselves possible.”
Despite its inherent playfulness the Student Council’s Toy Story-inspired video captured some of the brave community that Mrs. Morin envisioned in her opening statements. Produced by adventurous students who were willing “to put themselves out there,” their story about the year ahead was one of support, personal growth, and community-building. In the most whimsical way possible, the Mayfield community modeled ways to embrace the journey, even the parts that scare us.
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Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 28 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.