Formation of Self helps students tackle challenges with strength and clarity

When Formation of Self first launched at Mayfield, it was with the knowledge that “pure learning” often neglects the extenuating circumstances, irregularities, and irrationalities that are a large part of the high school experience. For every grade, the FOS courses tackle elements that could otherwise interfere with a student’s performance in a classroom, or derail other aspects of their wellbeing. As we move into the second semester, FOS teachers and students reflect on how they’re confronting challenges with strength and clarity.
Students in Mrs. Bussard’s freshman class did some honest (and judgement-free!) self-reflection about their study habits. Students evaluated their own strengths and weaknesses in test prep and then chose three weak study habits to drop and three effective study habits to add to their academic toolkit. With a dash of neurology and a smattering of psychology, Ms. Perez facilitated an important Anxiety vs. Stress seminar, giving girls critical differentiators between the two conditions. Students were able to put their own anxious and stressful experiences into better context, and Ms. Perez offered useful—and clinically proven—ways to manage stress and anxiety.

Sophomore students talked about the concept of body positivity. Ms. Perez hosted open discussions on topics ranging from self-image and barriers to confidence, to societal norms and problem solving. Then, under Nurse Cota’s guidance, students tackled the taboos of female hygiene and dispelled myths associated with female and male reproductive systems. They also explored the complex issues of intimacy and consent in their everyday lives.

After their formative 9th- and 10th-grade FoS experiences, junior students come into Nurse Cota’s classroom ready to take on difficult topics. They recently researched, presented, and facilitated discussions about STDs with their classmates. By the end of this section, students know all about disease transmission, treatments, long-term health effects, and the importance of dialogue between partners as essential to prevention.

Juniors also start to dig deep and analyze their sense of identity. With the help of Ms. Briuer-Boland, students investigated the idea of intersectionality—how multiple identities interact to create complex individuals—and created their own “identity maps.” They then walked through the experience of relating to someone across a divide. Students gathered facts about a controversial topic and read articles written from both sides. Then, in class, they articulated their own views and voted with their feet by standing on a “value line” running down the length of the classroom to represent how far in support or opposition they were. Each student identified a classmate standing in opposition, and engaged that student in respectful dialogue, asking why they had chosen that position, and what evidence they had to support their view. Lastly, the class found common ground by applying our shared Holy Child values to the issue.

Now that our seniors have submitted their college applications, they move on to practical aspects of life beyond Mayfield. The Class of 2020 is a little more confident—and conscious of their surroundings—after spending some time with facilitators from Esteem Communication, a company that offers a broad range of communication seminars for students and parents. Girls also learned basic self-defense techniques, and even got to practice with a padded assailant! 

Ms. Pieper shared some great healthy eating tips on a budget, how to choose the right meal plan, the best way to utilize campus resources like the gym and intramural sports, and tips for finding (and interacting with) a roommate. 

Currently, senior students are exploring the concept of “privilege” with Ms. Briuer-Boland and coming to the end of a long conversation regarding healthy relationships with Ms. Perez. 

Mayfield is thrilled to provide this groundbreaking four-year FOS education, which builds excellent foundations for body, mind, and spirit. The young women who graduate with this training face the world with courage and conviction, armed with the tools to tackle any challenge that gets in their way!
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.